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Cronulla centre Bronson Xerri.

Cronulla rookie Bronson Xerri needed just 55 minutes to race into the list of the fastest players in the Telstra Premiership.

That was when the 18-year-old chased down Eels fullback Clint Gutherson to regather the ball and save a possible try during his NRL debut.

According to Stats, Xerri hit 34.5 km/h in the sprint chase, joining the likes of Josh Addo-Carr, Edrick Lee and James Roberts as the fastest men in the game.

"I think it helped that he [Gutherson] had to kick the ball a couple of times and lost a bit of momentum," Xerri told after his maiden appearance.

"I trained hard in the pre-season for that sort of intensity and done everything I could to prepare for the game. I've worked a lot on my speed and fitness so it was good to be able to help the boys there."

Xerri trained alongside Shaun Johnson all week but the Kiwi international's late withdrawal saw Kyle Flanagan rushed into the side before players were due to begin warm-up.

Throw in Briton Nikora and the Brailey brothers – Jayden and Blayke – and the next generation of Sharks are starting to make their mark.

"It was a massive shame to see Shaun miss the game but I was confident with Kyle after coming through the junior ranks with him, when he got called up I was super happy to make my debut alongside him," Xerri said.

"It was another level but everything I expected it to be."

I think it helped that he [Gutherson] had to kick the ball a couple of times

Sharks rookie Bronson Xerri

Xerri finished the game with 153 running metres, three tackle busts and 11 tackles.

"You've got to remember he's only 18. He's done everything we could ask of him in the pre-season, he's forced us to pick him," Sharks coach John Morris said.

"He's kept Josh Dugan and Josh Morris honest. He trialled well for us. I thought his touches looked good and he won't forget that debut, it was a tough game to come into.

"He prepares to be playing outside Shaun Johnson and that gets pulled from him as well. That adversity just before kick-off, it's something he'll never forget as well."

Xerri will go into next week's clash with a quieter preparation after a video of his NRL selection went viral last week.

He faces the task of marking Roosters and Australian centre Latrell Mitchell in his second appearance on Saturday night when the Sharks host the defending premiers.

The moment Xerri learned of his debut

"It's been an emotional week, I'll soak it in for now then I've got to see if I earned my spot for next week and do a bit of review on my game," Xerri said.

"I look up to Latrell and have enjoyed watching him play and he started out as a teenager too. It will be a bit surreal coming up against him."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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