Pay up: Leeds Rhinos demanding transfer fee as they lock down homesick hooker James Segeyaro

JAMES SEGEYARO: Remains on the register at Leeds Rhinos, despite not returning to club.
JAMES SEGEYARO: Remains on the register at Leeds Rhinos, despite not returning to club.
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THE signing of Australian hooker Matt Parcell has not diminished Leeds Rhinos’ firm stance on their former star James Segeyaro.

Segeyaro signed a two-year contract in September but has refused to return from an off-season break Down Under, saying he was homesick during his time in Leeds.

Leeds Rhinos ' Gary Hetherington

Leeds Rhinos ' Gary Hetherington

Rhinos paid Manly Sea Eagles an undisclosed fee for Parcell but remain determined not to let Segeyaro simply walk into another club for free.

Chief executive Gary Hetherington confirmed the Papua New Guinea international is no longer under contract to Rhinos but remains on their register and transfer list and will be unable 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,” said Hetherington.

“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 said Rhinos are also pursuing a separate action against the Papua New Guinea international for breach of contract and 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,” stated Hetherington.

That means Leeds are no longer paying Segeyaro – who has been linked with Australian champions Cronulla Sharks – and he will not be able to change his mind and return to the club.

Segeyaro’s decision not to return to Leeds left the club without a specialist senior hooker at a time when most players of a suitable standard were contracted elsewhere.

Parcell was just one season into a three-year contract with Manly, but his pacy running from dummy-half did not suit coach Trent Barrett and head of football Bob Fulton agreed to let him go after negotiations with Leeds.

Hetherington met Parcell during a recent trip to Australia and is confident the former Ipswich Jets and Brisbane Broncos player will settle in Leeds.

He said: “I had lunch with him and his partner Steph in 70 degree heat.

“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.”

Meanwhile, home-grown product Liam Sutcliffe is hoping to re-establish himself as Leeds’ first-choice stand-off next season.

The 22-year-old began 2016 in the play-making role, but made a successful switch to full-back mid-way through the year.

“I want to play at half-back this year,” confirmed Sutcliffe.

“Ashton (Golding, who has been awarded Rhinos’ No 1 jersey) is going to be doing a job for us at full-back so, hopefully, this year I want to nail down the stand-off position and have a really good season there.

“Full-back has made me learn and realise a fair few things that I can take into the half-back position

“There’s a fair bit I’ve learned and, hopefully, I can take that into the season.”