STAR hooker James Segeyaro has ended speculation over his future by agreeing a two-year contract with Leeds Rhinos.
The news is a huge boost to Rhinos ahead of tonight’s home derby against Batley Bulldogs in the First Utility Super-8s.
Segeyaro has been in outstanding form for Rhinos since joining them - initially on loan until the end of the season - from Penrith Panthers.
Rhinos have won all seven games with the 25-year-old former NRL hooker of the year in their lineup and he has been among the try scorers in the last five.
St George-Illawarra were understood to be among several clubs keen to tempt Segeyaro back to Australia, but he is now committed to Rhinos until the end of 2018.
A win tonight would leave Rhinos one point away from guaranteeing their place in Super League next year and Segeyaro said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time so far in Leeds and I’m here to win trophies with the Rhinos and play in the big games.
“Hopefully, we can have a strong finish to this season and I’m really excited about 2017.”
Coach Brian McDermott described Segeyaro’s new contract as great news for Rhinos.
He said: “He has been a very influential player for us since he signed for the club and he is a great character to have around the camp.
“The standard of the competition will no doubt improve again next season and to have signed a player of his quality is very significant for us.”
Chief executive, Gary Hetherington added: “The intention when James joined us in July was for him to be with us until at least the end of 2018, but given he had never been to England before, it was sensible for both him and the club to use this season to ensure both parties were committed to the future and I’m very happy to say that has proved to be the case.
“James has settled in well and he has made a big contribution to the team performance.
“He’s a world class talent and this is good news for Leeds Rhinos and Super League.”
Meanwhile, Segeyaro insists Leeds are not taking part-timers Batley - who finished third in the Kingstone Press Championship - lightly.
He said: “It is a pretty big game.
“It’s at home and it will be a different experience.
“We’ve played Featherstone and London and it is a different feeling.
“You have to approach these games and be as professional as you can. You have to be prepared in every sense.
“I think us playing Featherstone and London was a good experience about how to approach those games and we are ready for a big one [tonight].”
Rhinos under-19s face Salford in a curtain-raiser this afternoon, kicking-off at 5.30pm.
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