Banned centre Bronson Xerri is poised to make his return to professional rugby league with Canterbury in 2024 but the NRL will not register his contract until after his four-year doping suspension lifts next November.
The Bulldogs confirmed on Friday afternoon they had tabled a two-year contract to Xerri, who has not played NRL since testing positive for anabolic steroids in November 2019 after his promising rookie season with Cronulla.
After returning a positive B sample, Xerri was given a back-dated ban that ruled him out of playing or training in any WADA-compliant professional sport until November 2023.
When his ban was handed down in March last year, Xerri said he had not lost hope he could one day return to the NRL and is now set to do so with Canterbury.
Xerri has been on the Bulldogs' radar for some time and has a longstanding relationship with general manager of football Phil Gould, whose son Jack was coming through the grades at Cronulla at the same time as Xerri.
But the NRL confirmed that no contract would be registered in the short-term, despite the Dogs' decision to make a play for Xerri.
"The NRL has not received a contract for registration," a spokesperson said in a statement to AAP.
"The NRL will not consider registration of a contract until the player's period of ineligibility ends."
Canterbury said they would continue to cooperate with the NRL as they welcomed Xerri back to the sport.
"The club is continuing to work with the NRL Integrity Unit to ensure full compliance is undertaken, before Bronson is able to return to the sport in November 2023," the Bulldogs said.