Bronson Xerri is facing a four-year ban for doping but Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend is confident it won’t mean the end of his NRL career.
After a nine-month ordeal from the original testing date in November, Xerri’s B-sample was confirmed positive for anabolic steroids on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old Sharks centre has a week to respond to a breach notice handed down by the NRL as he faces a four-year ban from any World Anti-Doping Agency-compliant sport.
Xerri can either plead guilty or face the NRL’s anti-doping tribunal to explain why he should not get the maximum four-year suspension.
Once considered a State of Origin star in the making, Xerri has been stood down since May 26, just four days before the Sharks resumed their season after the coronavirus shut down.
The notice came hours before the club was set to name their team to face Wests Tigers.
The original test was positive for a number of banned substances, including testosterone, androsterone and etiocholanolone, and took six months to be received by the NRL and Cronulla.
All the while the Sharks have been paying his NRL contract.
On Tuesday Sharks halfback Townsend said he had not spoken to Xerri since an initial WhatsApp message was sent to the team months ago.
However, he’s confident even a four-year ban would not be the end of his NRL career, as seen with Melbourne centre Sandor Earl who has since returned to the game.
“Yeah, he’s a young kid,” Townsend said.
“I’m not going to go too far into exactly what’s happened but we’ve seen a lot of people in NRL have second chances for mistakes that they have made.
“I’ve got no doubt if he’s got the fire in his belly to make a comeback then I’m sure he can do it.”
Xerri did not play the opening two games of the season for the Sharks as he recovered from shoulder surgery, but was set to return in round three.
The NRL said they would continue to provide support for Xerri during the appeals process.