LEEDS RHINOS have put a £250,000 price tag on James Segeyaro and engaged legal advice after the hooker walked out on his contract.
Rhinos had hoped the Papua New Guinea international would arrive back for pre-season training in January.
However, it seems Segeyaro is sticking by his recent decision –as reported in Australian media – to stay in Sydney after his off-season break and not fulfil the remaining two years of his deal.
NRL champions Cronulla Sharks are waiting in the wings to sign him but will have to fork out a transfer fee to do so after Leeds stuck to their guns with the ‘homesick’ player.
Furthermore, Rhinos are considering legal proceedings against Segeyaro for breach of contract and have engaged legal advisors.
They are currently considering all legal options available to them and Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “We take this matter very seriously.
“James’ decision has created a big problem for us and created uncertainty throughout our organisation.
“We are aware of the interest in him from a number of NRL clubs but we have our interests to protect as well and need to consider all avenues in this matter.”
Segeyaro initially joined from Penrith Panthers on loan in July before making the deal permanent a couple of months later.
He told Hetherington recently in Sydney that he was happy to return in 2017 – only to tell a newspaper a couple of days later he was homesick and didn’t envisage playing at Headingley again.
The 26-year-old proved a timely signing during the summer, joining when Rhinos were bottom of Super League but helping them win nine of their last 10 matches, scoring six tries in 10 games as they avoided the drop.
Given hooker is such a pivotal position, Leeds will face a battle to find a replacement for the ex-North Queensland Cowboys rake with the new season fast approaching and it is no surprise they will demand such a large fee.
Rhinos boss Brian McDermott said on Thursday he “expected” Segeyaro to return but also revealed his disappointment with the way in which the player had acted.
Leeds are the second Super League side to seek legal advice after a player walked out on his contract with Castleford Tigers in a similar position following Denny Solomona’s failure to return for training, Sale Sharks hoping to sign the prolific winger for free.
Meanwhile, McDermott has confirmed new signing Cory Aston, the half-back bought from Championship side Sheffield Eagles, will start the 2017 season on dual-registration with Featherstone Rovers.