Leeds Rhinos: Hetherington holding firm over Segeyaro

James Segeyaro.

James Segeyaro.

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LEEDS RHINOS chief executive Gary Hetherington is planning talks with Super League and NRL bosses over star hooker James Segeyaro’s potential walk-out.

Hetherington has reiterated that Segeyaro will not be released from his contract despite reports in the Australian media suggesting he is not willing to return to England.

Gary Hetherington.

Gary Hetherington.

In an interview published on the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph’s website, Segeyaro – who has been linked with Aussie champions Cronulla Sharks – said he was homesick and lonely during his spell at Rhinos and plans to remain in Australia.

The Papua New Guinea-born former NRL hooker of the year joined Rhinos on loan from Penrith Panthers in July and signed a two-year contract in September. Last week Rhinos released a statement saying the player was looking forward to returning to Leeds from his pre-season break on January 3.

But following Segeyaro’s interview, Hetherington told Rhinos’ website: “The comments attributed to James have obviously come as a big disappointment and a surprise following my meeting with him and his manager Sam Ayoub last Wednesday.

“When speculation first broke regarding Cronulla and their interest in James, I alerted both the RFL and NRL chief executives to the issue and the NRL confirmed a player cannot be registered with a NRL club whilst his registration sits with a Super League club and in James’ case he is registered with us and the RFL until the end of 2018.

“Interest in him from other NRL clubs has been reported, but they know he is not for sale. However I have no doubt this has become a key issue. The integrity of our game is now on the line and I hope to have further discussions with senior officials from the RFL and NRL at the earliest opportunity.”

Segeyaro is the latest overseas player threatening not to fulfil his contract with a Super League club. Half-back Chris Sandow has refused to return to training with Warrington Wolves and Castleford Tigers are taking legal advice over the future of Super League’s top try scorer Denny Solomona, who is wanted by Sale Rugby Union Club.

The Daily Telegraph quoted Segeyaro as saying he was grateful for the opportunity at Leeds last season, but was unhappy being away from friends and family. He said: “I haven’t talked with any clubs nor have I signed with anyone, how can I anyway? I need to sort out this matter.

“I wouldn’t say I was pressured into taking up an option to re-sign with Leeds, but I certainly didn’t have the support network I lean on when I make key life decisions. I told them I can’t make the decision to take up the option without sitting down with my family, but we had a deadline and I had to make a decision. That’s what I’ve explained to Gary throughout this period. I want to get on with my life and unfortunately, that doesn’t include going back to the UK.

“I just can’t do it. I’m due back with Leeds on January 3, but honestly I’m not even looking that far ahead, I’m just taking each day as it comes.”

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