LEEDS RHINOS insist they will not let hooker James Segeyaro join a new club for free – despite signing a replacement.
Rhinos this week recruited 24-year-old Australian Matt Parcell on a three-year contract after paying an undisclosed fee to NRL club Manly Sea Eagles.
Parcell will plug the gap left by Segeyaro’s decision not to fulfil the two-year deal he signed in September.
Chief executive Gary Hetherington confirmed Segeyaro is no longer under contract to Rhinos, but remains on their register and transfer list and will not be able to play for anyone else without Leeds’ agreement and a fee being paid.
“The situation with James Segeyaro has not changed, even though we have signed Matt Parcell,” Hetherington said. “James Segeyaro remains on our register and on the RFL’s register as well and he may well remain for the next two years.
“He will only be off that at the expiry of his contract, [but] he remains on the transfer list and is available to anybody who makes an acceptable offer.”
Hetherington confirmed Rhinos are also pursuing a separate action against the Papua New Guinea international for breach of contract.
Segeyaro joined Rhinos on loan from Penrith Panthers in July and signed a long-term contract two months later, but declined to return from a break in Australia, saying he had been homesick during his time in Leeds.
The Rhinos chief said there is now no possibility of the two parties getting back together. “James himself, through his manager, cancelled his contract by writing to us and confirming he would not be fulfilling the remainder of his contract,” Hetherington stated.
“James himself, through his manager, cancelled his contract by writing to us and confirming he would not be fulfilling the remainder of his contract,” Hetherington stated.
That means Leeds are no longer paying Segeyaro - who has been linked with Aussie champions Cronulla Sharks - and he will not be able to change his mind and return to the club.
Meanwhile, Hetherington revealed Parcell, who is due in Leeds next month and could make his first appearance in Ryan Hall’s testimonial game against Hull KR at Headingley on January 20, is a player Rhinos chased 18 months ago.
“We were alerted by his exploits with Ipswich and Brisbane,” the Leeds chief said.
“But by the time we moved in on him he had signed for Manly, so we missed him.
“When we heard he may be available, that was of particular interest.”
Hetherington met with Parcell during his recent trip to Australia and has no doubt the player will settle in Leeds.
“I had lunch with him and his partner Steph in 70 degree heat,” Hetherington said.
“He has not been to England before and I’ve told him it will be different over here, but a lot more interesting!
“The monotony of all-day sunshine will be replaced by a more varied climate and that seemed to appeal to him.
“He has a genuine interest in coming to England, he knows a fair bit about the club and he has spoken to [Ipswich coach and former Leeds player] Ben Walker about it.
“We have got someone who really wants to be here and who is going to be popular with the fans, players and everyone else.
“He is coming into the prime of his career and is fully committed to being part of us for three years and hopefully longer than that.”
Hetherington stressed Leeds were given permission by Manly to speak to Parcell and the deal was agreed amicably between the clubs.
He said: “We have paid a fee, which was the fair and reasonable thing to do. He had another two years left on contract and he played every game when fit last year and started most of them.
“He was a prominent player in their organisation. His style of play will be ideally suited to the style [coach] Brian McDermott wants from him.”