By ISAAC LIRI
KUMULS squad member James Segeyaro is a polarising figure with his inclusion in the national side akin to the return of rugby league’s prodigal son.
Despite drawing criticism from some Kumul fans, the 26-year-old said he welcomed the comments, good and bad, on his decision to play for the country of his birth after turning out for the Australian Prime Minister’s 13 in 2015.
The Cronulla Sharks hooker said he would not play for PNG after the death of father Iffysoe in 2014 because he was unhappy with the way his father was treated by officials. But time has changed his outlook and a more mature Segeyaro said he was grateful to coach Michael Marum for giving him an opportunity to redeem himself.
“I was really pleased when Michael (Marum) told me that I made the Kumul squad for the World Cup,” Segeyaro said at Kumuls training yesterday.
“I had a chat with him earlier this year and I told him that I wanted to play in the Pacific test but I broke my hand so I didn’t get the opportunity to play.
“I understand that everyone has got a right to their opinion and I am happy for them to have their opinion.”
“If we didn’t have critics in rugby league then rugby league wouldn’t be our number one sport,” Segeyaro said.
“So seeing people’s opinions means a lot of people are going to come to the game and that’s the bigger picture which is that everyone supports.
“For instance, if no one had an opinion then we’d have 5000 people turn out instead of 20,000 so I am happy everyone has an opinion and everyone comments when they want to comment. That’s alright and I am alright with that.
“I am going back to the Sharks next year so I just want to say to everyone who are obviously upset or have an opinion about the decision of my selection in the Kumuls that I am going to let my football do the talking because that is the only way I know how to silence critics and anything like that.”
With plenty of options in the hooking role for the Kumuls, Segeyaro remains positive referring to the Kumuls team as one of the best sides selected.
“I am very grateful and thankful for getting picked. No disrespect to the previous teams or anything like that but I think this is one of the best PNG teams picked,” Segeyaro said.
“I am ready to take on Fiji and Australia this coming weekend in the Tri-Series and then on to the World Cup.
“The camp is pretty normal. We are Papua New Guineans so we feel like a family and we’ve settled in pretty well and everyone is pretty happy.
“I think this is one of the toughest camps and our trainers are making us work hard which is good.
“I broke my hand this year but I should be alright for the World Cup.”
Kumul captain David Mead spoke of Segeyaro’s inclusion in the team as a huge boost for the side.
“James brings a lot of experience, he’s helping our middle with our defence and attack,” Mead said.
“He’s a quality player and a former Dally M hooker of the year so there is no doubt that James has got a lot of ability and experience to bring to the Kumuls and I look forward to playing alongside him.”
By ISAAC LIRI