Only told hours before last night's game that he would be making his return to the NRL after four-and-a-half years, Bronson Xerri has spoken for the first time after his Bulldogs club debut and first NRL appearance since 2019.

A late call-up for Blake Wilson (illness), his arrival back to the NRL was so spontaneous that his jersey presentation took place after the match rather than before.

One of the best young outside backs in the competition back in 2019, his career came to a standstill later that year when it was found that he tested positive for a banned substance and was exiled from the NRL.

Nearly five years on, Xerri has made his miraculous return back to first grade after being granted a lifeline by Cameron Ciraldo and the Canterbury Bulldogs.

"It really didn't sink in until I kind of got out there and warmed up but I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity," Xerri said after his first NRL game since 2019.

"It was a rollercoaster because I knew it was also 50-50 and I was kind of just sitting on it (and) was trying to mentally prepare as best as I can but when he told me the news, straight away I called my my mum, I called my dad, I called everyone.

"This was way more important and way more special than my actual debut.

"What I've been through in the whole four years and to come back that was definitely more special, and I'm just extremely grateful for the opportunity that Ciro and the club's given me."

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)

In what would be considered an emotional rollercoaster for Xerri, he has revealed that he has grown so much as a person in the time that he has been away from rugby league and wants to help individuals who have gone through adversity in the past.

"I've grown so much as a person. I've got my close friends and family around me that helped me throughout those four years," added Xerri.

"I want to be that person that can help someone that's gone through adversity or that has mental health issues.

"I definitely want to be that person."

At only 23, the centre revealed how important his family and close friends were during the dark days he endured after being his with a drug ban by the NRL, especially his mother, who became his "rock".

"There were some very dark days, so I needed them," he continued.

"My mum was my rock the whole four years so to hear her say a speech after the game was very emotional.

"She's the only one that's seen me through my actual dark days.

"She told the club how hard those four years was for me and the family and she's so proud of me and how resilient I am.

"I think any 18 or 19-year-old who went through what I went through probably wouldn't come back from that, so I'm proud of myself.

"I could have put my head down and not had that dream again, but here I am and I'm coming back for more."