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Xerri's biggest fear: 'I didn't want to be the face of it'

As Bronson Xerri lay on his lounge desperately waiting on results after complaining of body aches and a severe fever, the rest of his family and teammates waited too.

Xerri, the Cronulla Sharks young gun who was tested for COVID-19 last month, feared the club's decision to send him to a Sutherland hospital clinic for a test could have suspended the NRL season immediately.

You could say in the scheme of things it should've been the least of his worries, however the 19-year-old only had thoughts for everyone else around him.

"I didn't want to be the face of it, I was looking at myself on the news while being sick on the lounge thinking I was going to hold everyone in the game up," Xerri told NRL.com.

"The boys were into me too that I was going to be the face of the virus and I just kept thinking why is this going to be me?"

Under the Sharks' medical rules, players are advised to notify club doctor Paul Annett of any forms of illness throughout the year, in a bid to prevent it from spreading from player to player, regardless of the seriousness.

Last time they met: Bulldogs v Sharks - Round 15, 2019

Dr Annett told Xerri he was waiting for the first player to come to him with flu-like symptoms amid the pandemic that continues to sweep the globe.

He ordered him to take the test.

"I was not keen to do that at all but he gave me no choice and called the hospital to tell them I was coming," Xerri said.

"My big thing was I didn't want it to get out in the media so I walked in with a hat on and kept my head down to disguise myself.

"I went into this room and everyone had to have a mask on that was about to get tested for it. The doctors had special suits on with helmets.

"I felt like a criminal the way everyone was looking at me. They swabbed my tongue and the back of my throat and then went up my nostril. It was a weird experience."

Xerri had his results fast-tracked but still had to wait more than 24 hours for results – which returned a negative result.

On standby were his family - he'd had had close interaction with them and they could've been infected.

"I had everyone on hold, I had heaps of messages from family, who were in contact with people at their work," he said.

"It all hit the media so then those close to me were being asked if they'd been near me, there was no escaping it then. I guess it shows how easily it could spread if others were in contact with me but showed no symptoms."

Sharks young gun Bronson Xerri crossing the stripe last season.
Sharks young gun Bronson Xerri crossing the stripe last season. ©NRL Photos

Amid all the drama for Xerri, his Sharks teammate and mentor Josh Morris announced his departure to the Roosters, paving away for the young speedster to cement his spot in the back line when he returns from a shoulder injury.

Xerri underwent a double reconstruction last year on his right shoulder and would've been available for round three.

"J-Moz has been nothing but the best for me," Xerri said.

"When he first came to the club he knew I was in the position and with his experience I always went to him for advice and he offered that to me.

"For him to go and play with his brother in his final years, why wouldn't he? I wish him all the best."

Xerri has linked up with his close friend - and Morris's future teammate - Kyle Flanagan with the pair training together during isolation.

"We do a bit of sprint training and then do footy stuff after," he said.

"I think this whole break, I'm trying to take it as a positive that my shoulder can heal even more and be at 110%. I've ticked all my rehab and I'll always have a footy in my hand."