SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 06: Bronson Xerri of the Sharks is tackled during the round four NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sharks at ANZ Stadium on April 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Former Cronulla Sharks winger Bronson Xerri has undergone a significant physical change during his doping ban, clearly spending a lot of time in the gym and putting on a lot of muscle as the end-date of his suspension draws closer.

After a breakout first season in the NRL that saw him score 13 tries in 22 games for the Sharks, Xerri was handed a four-year ban in September 2020 after he tested positive for steroids in May of the same year.

Xerri initially appealed the ban, which was ultimately upheld by the NRL Appeals Tribunal – but he is free to sign with an NRL club for 2024 come November 1.

SEE ALSO: NRL hand banned Shark Bronson Xerri lengthy suspension

With talk of a distant return already on the cards, the latest photos of Xerri – showing significant weight and muscle gain since his playing days as a winger – have some wondering if he's physically capable of recapturing the speed that made him such a headline-grabber in his rookie season.

Xerri looks noticeably bigger than his playing days. (Photo: Instagram)

Speaking with the Daily Telegraph, sprint coach Roger Fabri – who had previously worked with Xerri but currently can't due to the ban – thinks that despite the obvious changes in Xerri's body, he can still get back to his best.

“We have full intentions to get back together when the band is up,” Fabri told Phil Rothfield.

“I think he'll get his pace back. You're either born with speed or you're not. Bronson was born with it.

“When he was previously training with our squad he was running the same times or slightly quicker than Jason Saab.

“His body shape has changed but if he really wants to get his speed back I can guarantee we'll make it happen”.