Bronson Xerri has referred to his 19-year-old self as “young and dumb” in an interview about his four-year drugs ban, calling it “the biggest mistake” of his life.
Speaking toThe Daily Telegraph, the 22-year-old revealed he has not watched a single game since copping the ban.
Xerri tested positive for Testosterone, Androsterone, Etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a, 17b-diol November 25, 2019.
He didn’t find out until seven months later when ASADA informed him in May, 2020 — and as a result he was provisionally suspended.
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He lost his appeal a year later and was officially served with a four-year ban, preventing him from playing for or training with an NRL club until November 25, 2023.
Xerri opened up on the moment his life changed, saying “it’s not a day I’m ever going to forget.”
“Seven months earlier I had taken the test and seven months later I was getting phone calls from a random number. I didn’t know who it was. It was ASADA and they told me I tested positive for a banned substance,” he added.
“I had seven or eight drug tests before I tested positive. The only drug test that I failed was that one.
“I was young. Still a kid and young and dumb. It was the biggest mistake of my life.”
Xerri was coming off an impressive rookie season and had just knocked back a five-year extension offer from the Sharks said to be worth $2.5 million when he got the test results.
He conceded that the first two years of the ban were particularly tough.
“It’s a massive difference from playing NRL. I hadn’t had a job in my life. I went straight from school to the NRL which is something I took for granted,” he said.
“I wasn’t showing my head and going out. I had my close mates around me to help me go through what I went through.”
While Xerri switched off from rugby league he did consider trying to crack the NFL — which does not fall under the World Anti-Doping Authority.
“There was a chance and management reached out to me to do what Val Holmes did and go to the IMG Academy. I was eyeing it off and ready to do it but it didn’t work out,” he said.
But Xerri is very much back in the NRL world after signing a deal with the Bulldogs for 2024 and 2025.
“I was at home and got a phone call from my manager and Gus (Gould) wanted to meet me,” he said.
“I had nothing going for me. I was in a vulnerable state. I was going to start negotiating with teams. Gus was the first to reach out. He was a genuine guy and told me he had big plans.”
But there’s a catch.
“My contract does not get registered until I pass every drugs test until November,” Xerri revealed.
“People can say I’m still on steroids but the facts are I’m getting tested once a month. I’ve passed every single one of them.”
Xerri is likely to cop criticism when he returns to the NRL stage, despite owning his mistake, but he’ll use that as motivation.
“At the end of the day I put myself in that position,” he said.
“If they want to call me a drug cheat they can. No one knows how hard I worked to get where I was.
“If they want to label me a drug cheat because of one mistake I made when I was 19 then so be it. I am ready to shut them all up when I’m back.
“The key is to accept it and move on. The first two years were very tough. I’ve accepted it. I took full ownership of it and I am ready to move on with my life and career.
“It’s the comeback story.
“I’m going to come back and prove everyone wrong. My journey has been an up-and-down roller coaster.
“I would love to come back and make every rep team possible. I want to win a premiership.”
Xerri won’t link up with the Bulldogs until his ban is lifted so for now he’s training with renowned sprint coach Roger Fabris.
Fabris told News Corp there’s “a heap of work to do” but Xerri “is gifted.”
Originally published as ‘Young and dumb’: Xerri opens up on drugs ban and plan to ‘prove everyone wrong’ in NRL return