LEEDS RHINOS legend Rob Burrow admits the James Segeyaro situation is one they did not want to encounter but he maintains it will not derail their plans for 2017.
The ex-Great Britain scrum-half could find himself spending extra time at hooker again next season following Papua New Guinea star Segeyaro’s controversial decision not to return from Australia for the remaining two years of his deal.
Leeds have slapped a £250,000 fee on the player who impressed so much when joining from Penrith Panthers in June, bolstering their successful fight against relegation.
Asked if he will be playing more nine in the new campaign, Burrow said: “I’m not sure about that but I’m just prepared to play wherever for the club.
“It’s a bit of a situation we didn’t want to be in but there’s a number of guys who can step up and do things.
“I’m not bothered if I do play hooker as long as I can be effective for this team in any way.
“Everyone just wants to do our best for the team and certainly get our season back on par to where it should be.
“Wherever that is for me I’ll do my best.”
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington is sure to continue looking for a replacement for the ‘homesick’ Segeyaro who has still not secured himself an NRL club. Either way, Rhinos coach Brian McDermott knows full well what Burrow is capable of in the dummy-half role if needed, having played there for much of their title-winning campaigns in 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Now aged 34, he is in his 17th pre-season at Headingley and said the process is “better” than his early memories.
“When I first started it was hard but God knows why really,” recalled Burrow.
“We do it a lot more specific now. The training we do is really tailored to what we actually do in our game whereas when I started it was a flogging for flogging’s sake.
“Now it’s really specific but really intense. It’s tough but just in different ways.”
Having been embroiled in the ignominy of the Qualifiers last season, the seven-time Grand Final winner accepts Leeds can ill-afford another disappointing year like 2016.
“I think it’s everything that we start well next season,” said Burrow. No team in any situation can start slow but certainly after the way we performed last year ... We have to come out of the blocks not only to make a bit of an impact on the league but for our own selves as well.
“Form is everything and we need to get off well.
“We’ve trained really well and hopefully we can keep this intensity up and then we should be ready and raring to go for the start of this season.”
Meanwhile, Burrow and the Leeds players used their day off yesterday to visit Leeds General Hospital, taking along Christmas presents for the ill children on its wards and bringing some festive cheer.
“It’s a real highlight for the lads before Christmas,” he said.
“It’s a time for happiness so if we can bring a bit of joy to these poor kids’ faces it’s a big achievement for us.
“They’re constantly going through tough times so if we can make them smile it’s really rewarding and we enjoy meeting them and chatting.”