Xerri was provisionally suspended by the NRL on Tuesday after he tested positive to a banned performance-enhancing drug last November.
According to foxsports.com.au, ASADA had specifically targeted Xerri after an anonymous tip had suggested he been using performance enhancing substances for years. It is believed Xerri’s use of performance enhancing substances was a known secret in the Cronulla junior system.
Xerri had played junior football with the Aquinas Colts. He had often played an age group or two above his age. His teammates at Aquinas featured Sharks rising hooker Blayke Brailey and Roosters halfback Kyle Flanagan. One of the teams Xerri had played in while at Aquimas had won ten consecutive premierships in the Shire.
Mezzatesta is in constant contact with ARLC chairman Peter V’landys about the Xerri incident.
“The briefing I’ve had from the NRL integrity unit clearly indicates this a matter of an individual and not a club matter – so we have no other concerns at this present point in time,” Mezzatesta told foxsports.com.au.
“I’ve spoken to Peter V’landys, we’re in constant contact, we know it’s a matter of an individual – at this point in time, we certainly know it’s not a club issue.
“We’re more than happy to work with the NRL moving forward.
“We’re very confident with the protocols we have in place, with the systems we have in place, it’s unfortunate that this matter has arisen for a young individual that’s associated with our club.
“Our priority is welfare, but we certainly have no concerns about our club at this time and certainly not into the future.”
On the eve of the season re-launch, the Sharks latest drug scandal comes six years after their 2013 peptides scandal. As a result, former head coach Shane Flanagan coped a 12-month coaching ban, while 15 players were slapped with 12 month back-dated bans.
At the beginning of last season, controversy struck again at the Sharks with the club hit with a $250,000 fine for rorting their salary cap. The club has to play $350,000 under the salary cap last year and this year as a result.