Segeyaro asks PNG to forgive and forget

Even after being abused on social media, James Segeyaro is still hoping the people of Papua New Guinea open their hearts to him during this year’s Rugby League World Cup.

Two years ago Segeyaro turned his back on the country of his birth, declaring he would never represent them again.

But he has done an about-face and put his hand up for the Kumuls for the end-of-year tournament which will be played in Australia, New Zealand and PNG.

There are no league fans more passionate than that of the Pacific nation – the only country in the world where the 13-man game is the national sport.

The Cronulla hooker’s decision to sever ties with PNG before going back on his word has divided opinions and some angry fans expressed their disdain via social media.

“It’s been a bit negative in the sense that people are telling me they don’t need me,” Segeyaro said.

“It is what it is but at the end of the day it is my choice and if they can look past the whole me turning my back on my country, it was my personal choice because of what the people did to my old man.

“It’s not because I didn’t like the country or anything like that.”

Segeyaro relinquished his eligibility for PNG two years ago because he was disappointed with how his father Iffysoe, himself a Kumuls player, was treated by league officials.

The 26-year-old said he decided to return to the fold after the coach of Queensland Cup club PNG Hunters, Michael Marum, took over the national side.

“It was hilarious, reading the comments and the direct messages – it was hate mail more than anything. Everyone’s got a right to their opinion,” Segeyaro said.

He still doesn’t know how he will be received during the Kumuls’ three World Cup pool matches, all of which will be played in Port Moresby.

“You know what, it’s my homeland,” Segeyaro said.

“The people of Papua New Guinea are very opinionated because they love the sport, that’s what’s beautiful about it, they’re passionate. They’re very passionate about it, it’s the No.1 sport in the country.

“I’m not too worried about it. It’s a bit of mixed emotions at the moment, seeing what it’s going to be like if I get picked and go over. I should be right.”

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