Senior Sharks expect nothing less from Chambers when he goes up against Xerri, who has just four NRL games to his name, but believe he will keep his cool.
Xerri told the Herald he had already a tough initiation with match-ups against representative centres Mitchell, Michael Jennings, Dean Whare and Jack Bird, and was prepared for whatever his pesky Storm opposite had up his sleeve.
“He does [try to get under your skin], but I won’t let him get to me,” Xerri said.
“I’ll only worry about my own game. If he talks he talks.
“If you look at my past games, I’ve come up against some good-quality centres. You want to [play] the best of the best. Playing four games has been unreal. I know the body has definitely felt it. But I’m loving it.”
One of several fresh faces Cronulla coach John Morris has been forced to blood because of a shocking injury run, Xerri has speed to burn and a certain swagger about him. He’s proud of his Maltese heritage – a family crest is tattooed on the outside of his right calf.
Sharks star Andrew Fifita said of Xerri: “When he’s on he’s on and when he’s off he’s off. I’ve always been brutally honest with good ol’ ‘Snoz’.
“He’s only four games in but will grow. He’s 18. Hell flourish and do really well.
“He’ll accept the challenge against Chambers. He’s a Queensland Origin centre, he’s an Australian centre, he’s up there with Latrell. I’ll remind him he’s up against a really good rep-quality player, but he’ll be up for the job.”
Morris said Xerri was not one to retaliate, and would be more than ready for his first experience.
“Will’s always up for a big game when he plays the Sharks – but we’ve got all the belief in the world Bronson will be in for a big game as well,” Morris said.
“He [Chambers] always seems to find Gal somewhere in back-play. That makes it interesting.”
Gallen did not appreciate being swatted from behind by Storm giant Nelson Asofa-Solomona when a mass melee erupted near full-time at the same venue last year, and said after the game: “Big Asofa-Solomona – six foot eight and 130kg – grabbed me from behind and throws me down, which is fine, that’s part of the game. That was from behind and for no reason, then it all sort of ends and I’d asked where he’d been for the last 80 minutes.
“I went to shake his hand at the end of it and he wouldn’t shake my hand. I thought that was pretty ordinary to be honest.”
Should Josh Dugan fail to be cleared to play, he will join Wade Graham, Matt Moylan, Shaun Johnson and Aaron Woods in the casualty ward, meaning the club will be missing more than 600 games of NRL experience.
Morris said Dugan was a chance to play but did not want to rush him after he was forced to pull out during the warm-up at Suncorp Stadium last Saturday night.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.