Coach explains decision behind signing convicted drug cheat

Canterbury Bulldogs have a strong brand as a family club and that’s one of the reasons why it shocked many that they offered a contract for the 2024 and 2025 seasons to Bronson Xerri.

Xerri, 23, has only played one season in the NRL as an 18-year-old for Cronulla Sharks in 2019, when he scored 13 tries in 22 games, becoming one of the hottest prospects in the game.

However, he was issued with a four-year ban from the sport in November 2019 after testing positive for a number of banned substances, one of which was testosterone.

Head Coach Cameron Ciraldo has appeared on former Bulldog legend James Graham’s podcast and explained the decision to sign the talented but tainted 23-year-old.

“I’d never met Bronson, I didn’t know much about him. I wanted to go and meet him and we had a couple of coffees and talked about what’s happened in the past with him and why he is where he is.

“What I found was he was really open and honest about what had happened in the past, he’d taken ownership of what had happened and he was working hard on himself as a person when he wasn’t in footy and that gave me confidence that the person Bronson will be when he’s back in the NRL is the sort of person we want at the club.”

Bronson’s ban doesn’t expire until November 2023, but that hasn’t stopped the Bulldogs signing the Sydney-born centre who will be looking to make up for lost time after breaking onto the NRL scene three years ago.

A statement from the club at the time read: “The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs would like to confirm the club has issued a playing contract to Bronson Xerri for the 2024 and 2025 NRL Season.

“The club is continuing to work with the NRL Integrity Unit to ensure full compliance is undertaken, before Bronson is able to return to the sport in November 2023.”

Ciraldo concluded: “The game is built on second chances and Bronson’s got that second chance now in 12 months time and it’s up to him to make the most of it. He’s obviously a very talented player, we saw what he did when he came into the NRL at such a young age.”

Xerri will be eligible to commence training with his new team at the conclusion of the 2023 season when he will then start his two-year contract with the Belmore club.

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