Shane Flanagan wanted Bronson Xerri to debut for the Cronulla Sharks last year, but NRL rules stated he was too young.
It was the same year he was picked for the NSW Under-20s Origin team just a few weeks after starring for the Under-18s at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He was the youngest in the team by far and was still studying at Endeavour Sports High.
He also played his first game of senior footy last year. He scored three tries with his first three touches before half-time.
If there was any doubt of his readiness for first grade, all you need to do is watch his incredible try against Manly in a trial, or the highlights from the Newtown Jets game last week where he showed incredible strength to score a try and set up another at right centre.
Brad Fittler coached him at state level as he rose through the ranks, where he scored an amazing solo try for the NSW Under-16s when he broke a scoring deadlock with a grubber to himself in a game where points were hard to come by.
His strength, ability, hunger and youthful exuberance even at that age gave the now-Origin coach no doubt he would make it in the NRL.
“I think he’s going to spend a long time in first grade,” Fittler said to NSWRL.com.au.
“I saw him in a trial match, he killed it, he can cover a couple of positions, you watch him go.
“He’s straight out of that mould out of a Jesse Ramien; he’s just a really strong runner, it’s very hard to tackle him.”
Xerri will line up at right centre against the Parramatta Eels next weekend as revealed by John Morris in an incredible video via sharks.com.au.
The video showed a raw, emotional reaction to Xerri hearing the news that he will make his debut this week. That followed with an even more emotional phone call to his mother.
The moment Sharks young gun learned of his debut
Fittler felt the impact of the video, and was pleased to see a soft side of the rising star beyond the tough footy player with tattoos and earrings.
“I actually coached Bronson a few times and I never really saw that in him, I never really saw the excitable young kid,” Fittler said.
“I thought he was the kid that was always going to be the best in his age group, he was strong he was always such a strong runner.
“To see that makes it all a bit human that makes it all real so I wish him all the best.”