James Segeyaro portrait pics
James Segeyaro portrait pics

Segeyaro set to tackle his greatest mentor

In the space of 10 days in May, James Segeyaro scored the matchwinner to upset premiers the Roosters in his Broncos debut, then got charged with low-range drink driving popping out for a morning coffee.

Welcome to the high-octane world of Segeyaro. A realm where there is no half-measures for a man whose decade-long tenure in the NRL has imparted life lessons that he hopes can help the Broncos in their do-or-die battle to make the playoffs this season.

All energy and character, Segeyaro bounces around Broncos training like a human pinball.

He is lively. Speaks at a million miles an hour, sometimes jumping between three topics in one sentence.

He plays accordingly, dancing around the rucks, scorching out of dummy half, zigzagging here, there and everywhere in search of a defensive hole to exploit.

 

Broncos recruit James Segeyaro is a bundle of energy around the club. Picture: Tim Hunter
Broncos recruit James Segeyaro is a bundle of energy around the club. Picture: Tim Hunter

 

The man affectionately known as "Chicko" has brought some spark to Red Hill - and for all his zany eccentricity, Segeyaro is nobody's fool.

His perspective sharpened by nine years in the NRL, it is fitting Segeyaro should play his 150th top-grade game on Friday night against former club Penrith and Ivan Cleary, the Panthers coach who showed him equal measures of compassion and tough love.

"Setbacks are the best lessons in life sometimes," says Segeyaro, who played his best football under Cleary in 70 games for Penrith between 2013-16.

"I learnt a lot at Penrith. I learnt a lot about myself and what type of person I want to be and the type of person I don't want to be.

 

Segeyaro during a Panthers training session in 2015. Picture: Gregg Porteous
Segeyaro during a Panthers training session in 2015. Picture: Gregg Porteous

 

"I also learned not to take things for granted, especially in this day and age of how quickly an NRL career can go and how much you have to work to be consistent, not only weekly but yearly in the NRL.

"Every day is a blessing to wake up and play NRL.

"Sometimes in this rugby league environment we tend to forget that. Every day you have to try to be a better person, not only as a footy player, but outside as well.

"Once you find yourself, once you know who you are and you can look yourself in the mirror and be happy with what you see, you are more settled in your football."

Segeyaro was 22-years-old and had played just 33 NRL games at the Cowboys when he shifted to Penrith and met Cleary.

 

Segeyaro in action for the Cowboys U20’s at Suncorp Stadium in 2010.
Segeyaro in action for the Cowboys U20’s at Suncorp Stadium in 2010.

 

The Panthers coach helped Segeyaro become an international with the country in which he was born, Papua New Guinea.

"Ivan was one of my most influential coaches," he says.

"It was the life experience he taught, the way he let the players coach themselves.

"He was the type of coach who would let you make a mistake, then ask why did you make the mistake.

"I'm an old-school guy so I don't mind copping a rocket. But in this day and age, coaches have to be careful how they speak to players. Everyone has a different ethnicity, some cultures don't respond to criticism or copping a spray.

"This is a tough game and you do need a thick skin, but we are human beings at the end of the day.

 

James Segeyaro playing for Ivanhoes in 2005. Picture: Nellie Pratt
James Segeyaro playing for Ivanhoes in 2005. Picture: Nellie Pratt

 

"To get the best out of players, coaches have to understand them, they have to know how to talk to them and Ivan was great in that way.

"He was very placid in the way he spoke to players. When they needed a rocket, they got one, but it wasn't a yelling one, it was a tone of disappointment.

"As athletes we are competitive so we don't want to let each other down and the organisation down."

Segeyaro's arrival at the Broncos on May 13 summed up his whirlwind nature.

Segeyaro training at Red Hill today. Picture: AAP Image/Jono Searle
Segeyaro training at Red Hill today. Picture: AAP Image/Jono Searle

One minute, he was down and out, languishing with Cronulla feeder-club Newtown after being cut due to the Sharks' salary-cap crisis.

The next, he lobbed at Broncos training, thrown a lifeline by coach Anthony Seibold after No.1 hooker Andrew McCullough suffered a freak injury mishap at training.

"I owe a lot to the Broncos," he says.

"It was a very emotional time, very challenging mentally. The last six to eight months has been very tough for myself. I was training alone at one point in Sydney.

"But I never thought about quitting. That would have been stupid. If you think like that, you end up giving up.

"I always stayed positive. In this game, the harder you work, the luckier you get, so I knew if I kept training hard, something would open up.

"I've played 140-odd games, so I feel I know what it takes to succeed at this level."

Segeyaro plays just his ninth game for the Broncos tomorrow but such has been his impact, Brisbane have begun talks on a new deal.

 

 

If the price is right, the 28-year-old will happily sign for 2020.

"I'm hoping to stay," he said.

"The plans are to stay but the fact of the matter is whether it's going to be the right decision for me financially, as well as what my role will be.

"'Seibs' is a great coach and he has made my job so much easier, but we have three hookers here (including McCullough and Jake Turpin). I have to look at the best option for me.

"While I don't play the minutes I used to play, I'd like to get the right amount of game time I feel I deserve.

"I'm a team player and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I believe I can get better here with a proper pre-season. If we get the negotiations right and the Broncos come up with the right contract, I'd definitely hope to extend my stay.

"My goal right now is to play finals football. When I got here, we weren't going great and I said then I want to help us get to September footy, so every game for us is do-or-die now."

 

 

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News Corp Australia


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