James Segeyaro faces an uncertain future after Leeds Rhinos confirmed they’ve instructed lawyers in Australia to prepare for legal proceedings against the ex-Penrith hooker for walking out on the Super League giants.
Segeyaro is already staring at the prospect of spending the next two seasons out of the NRL with Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington insisting his club won’t relax demands for a $400,000 transfer fee for his registration, which expires in November 2018.
The 26-year-old has been training with Cronulla and staying with close friend Wade Graham in the hope of earning a move to the NRL premiers who are looking for a replacement for Michael Ennis.
However, the Sharks are unwilling to sacrifice so much of their salary cap on a transfer fee, leaving Segeyaro in limbo unless another club is willing to fork out what Leeds want.
Graham said Segeyaro is in turmoil over the situation and hopes his close friend’s future can be resolved soon.
“He’s been a bit all over the place to be honest,” Graham told AAP from Cronulla’s camp in London ahead of their World Club Series clash with Wigan.
“He just wants to be playing again. I’d love it to be with us.
“He’s one of my best mates. I just want what’s right for him and I really hope something can be sorted.”
But a furious Hetherington said he has no sympathy for the 26-year-old after he made unflattering comments about his time at the Super League giants shortly after committing his future to the club.
“James reneged on his contract and he’s on the transfer list,” Hetherington told AAP.
“We’ve spoken to the NRL and they’ve made it clear that they won’t register any contract unless we’ve been paid the fee we want.
“We’ve employed lawyers in Australia to begin legal action for breach of contract.”
Hetherington defended his hardline stance and said he told Segeyaro and his manager Sam Ayoub what would happen when he met them in Sydney last November.
“I was bitterly disappointed when they told me James wasn’t coming back and told them what the consequences would be,” he said.
“I am making the stand for integrity of the game and for fans who pay money to watch rugby league every week.
“This kind of thing has started to happen a lot and we need to make sure it stops. It’s not right.”
Segeyaro agreed to a two-and-half year deal when he moved to Leeds from Penrith midway through last season that included a break clause at the end of the campaign.
“He had until September to tell us if he wanted to invoke that clause but he told us he was happy to stay and made statements of intent to that effect,” Hetherington said.
“Then he went home and all of a sudden he’s homesick and wanting to go back to the NRL.”
Segeyaro is not being paid by Leeds and Hetherington made it clear there’s no way back for him at Headingley.
“He’s torn up his contract and that is that,” he said.