New Leeds signing James Segeyaro says Super League is “straight up my alley” as he prepares to make his debut in Friday’s game against leaders Hull.
The 25-year-old former Penrith hooker has joined the Rhinos for the rest of the season in an exchange deal that saw England full-back Zak Hardaker move to the Panthers.
Hardaker made his NRL debut just three days after landing in Australia and Leeds coach Brian McDermott confirmed that Segeyaro will also go straight into action despite only arriving in England on Monday night.
“He told me he slept for 14 hours on the first leg of the flight but, even if he had jet lag, he’s in,” McDermott told a press conference at Headingley.
“I’ve never seen a player fall asleep on the field.”
“He will suit us. He is absolutely the type of player we want and will add a new dimension to us.”
Segeyaro, who was born in Papua New Guinea but moved to Queensland at an early age, will take the place of Australian hooker Beau Falloon, who joined Leeds on a 12-month contract at the end of last season as a replacement for the departed Paul Aiton and has made 10 Super League appearances.
Segeyaro said he consulted Aiton, a PNG international now with Catalans Dragons, before making the move to Headingley and was also inspired by another Kumuls legend Stanley Gene.
“Stanley Gene was an icon, that’s how I got into it,” said Segeyaro, who is in England for the first time. “I had ambitions to come over here but I never thought the opportunity would come so early.
“It’s an opportunity I couldn’t miss so here I am. I had words with Paulie before I made the move. He had awesome success here and I’d like to follow in his footsteps.
“It’s a bit of an unknown for me and I’m very excited, it’s like the first time in school.”
Goroka-born, Segeyaro made his NRL debut for North Queensland Cowboys in 2011 before moving to Penrith two years later.
He broke his arm early in the season and – after falling out of favour with Panthers coach Anthony Griffin – was dropped to reserve grade in May and told his contract would not be renewed at the end of the year.
Penrith cancelled Segeyaro’s contract to enable him to join Leeds and he says he has yet to consider his future beyond the end of the season.
Leeds’ defeat by Widnes on Sunday confirmed their place in the Qualifiers and they now face a battle to avoid relegation.