pre-season training, squads, Bronson Xerri return, Bulldogs, where will Stephen

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Pre-season is well-and-truly underway and this four-month training block could make or break a player’s career.

For some it’s all about building on what they achieved in 2023 but for others it’s so much more.

Bronson Xerri is eyeing a return to the NRL after a four-year ban, while Josh Schuster is ready to prove his critics wrong.

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Aidan Sezer has been assigned one of the toughest jobs after four years in the Super League and Jack Wighton has kicked off a new era in his new colours.

Jayden Campbell is gunning for the Titans’ No.1 jersey and then there’s youngsters Deine Mariner and Ethan Strange, who both have a major opportunity in front of them.

Don’t forget about Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Chanel Harris-Tavita though, who have returned to the game via the Warriors or Stephen Crichton, who has Blake Taaffe to battle with for the Bulldogs’ fullback spot.

Here are the players with the most to gain from this pre-season.

Madge pleas for buy in at first presser | 15:56


No one has more to gain from this pre-season than Bronson Xerri. The 23-year-old has re-entered the NRL world via the Bulldogs after a four-year doping ban. He has a lot to prove next year, but first he has to force his way into the Dogs’ 17 — and that starts in pre-season. Xerri was once a teen sensation at the Sharks tipped for big things… until he tested positive to performance-enhancing drugs. He was banished from the game until Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould arranged a meeting and decided to roll the dice on Xerri and offer him a two-year deal. Xerri began training with the Bulldogs at the start of November and although he’s kept in good shape, he has a lot of catching up to do. The game has changed a lot since Xerri last played due to some tweaks including the six-again rule. Every day of pre-season is crucial for Xerri as he eyes a spot in the backline for the Bulldogs’ Round 1 clash with the Eels on March 9.


Season 2023 was a seriously disappointing campaign for Josh Schuster. Manly moved on veteran five-eighth Kieran Foran to make room for Schuster to play his preferred position but he failed to deliver. He battled niggling injuries and fitness issues throughout the season and was dropped from the NRL side twice. Despite this he was re-signed on a three-year extension — but the new deal comes with a positional change. With Luke Brooks joining the Sea Eagles to play five-eighth Schuster will return to the second row in 2024, which is where he played his best footy in 2021 and 2022. There was a lot of criticism thrown Manly’s way for offering Schuster a new deal so the 22-year-old is going to need to put in the hard yards over the summer to prove his doubters wrong.

Josh Schuster during pre-season training. Picture: Jeremy PiperSource: News Corp Australia


The Bulldogs swooped on Blake Taaffe quickly…

Read More: pre-season training, squads, Bronson Xerri return, Bulldogs, where will Stephen 2023-12-04 19:04:57

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