Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tragedy turns to triumph for unsung Panther James Segeyaro

By RAY GATT of The Australian

James Segeyaro
Penrith's James Segeyaro finds himself in the clear as he races to score one of his two tries against Parramatta at Centrebet Stadium last night. Source: Getty Images

It was  one of the toughest days he had ever experienced but James Segeyaro knew what his mate would have wanted him to do  
Just hours after young North Queensland player Alex Elisala tragically passed away, Segeyaro came off the bench last night to play a huge hand in Penrith's 44-12 demolition of Parramatta in an eight-tries-to-two rout at Centrebet Stadium.
Playing with a heavy heart, the 22-year-old Papua New Guinea international dedicated his two tries to Elisala, with whom he had become close friends during his previous two seasons with the Cowboys.
Segeyaro was too upset to talk after the match but it was clear where his thoughts were during the game: he celebrated both tries by pointing to the sky and beating his chest close to his heart.
Coach Ivan Cleary said he had left the decision to play last night with Segeyaro.

"We had a chat this morning. I wasn't sure what he was going to do today. It's one of those situations ... there's no playbook for that sort of stuff," Cleary said.
"But he was straight on the front foot and said the best way to honour his mate was to play. They were pretty close.
"James played very well but the hard part now will be the myriad of emotions he will go through in the next few days, and we will have to be mindful of that."
Segeyaro was one of several standout players for the Panthers as they overcame tremendous odds to record a near record win in the local derby.
Hampered by a heavy injury toll, coming off five successive losses and lacking confidence, Penrith was given little hope in the battle of the west.
But with halfback Luke Walsh in devastating form, the Panthers refused to follow the script, producing a spirited display to record only their second win of the season.
It was also Penrith's biggest win over the Eels at home and just a point shy of the club's biggest victory against them, a 39-6 thrashing at Parramatta Stadium last season.
The Eels were left shattered and that feeling was reflected in the words of devastated coach Ricky Stuart. He labelled the performance embarrassing while captain Jarryd Hayne described it as awful.
"It's embarrassing when your two best players are 19 (Kelepi Tanginoa) and 20 (Vai Toutai)," Stuart said. "Both are still trying to learn how to play the game, or first grade level ... and one of those (Toutai) is a winger.
"It's hard to know what to expect from this team ... seven games in and it is what it is."
Stuart admitted he was extremely disappointed with the effort. "Yes, I am (the most disappointed he has been)," he said. "It was embarrassing. It is going to be hard to make changes because we don't have a lot underneath to put pressure on players. As for tonight, I'll discuss it with the players but I won't play things out in the media."
And to make things worse, the Eels look like being without inspirational prop Tim Mannah for an extended period. He was carried off the field in the 61st minute with an injury that Stuart revealed could be a broken fibula. He will have scans today.
While Penrith led 16-12 at half-time, the highlight belonged to Eels winger Toutai, who revived memories of legendary Eels winger Eric Grothe Snr after going on a rampaging 20m run that saw him beat five defenders and then carry three over the line.
The Panthers, however, raced in 28 unanswered points in the second half.
PENRITH 44 (T Robinson 2 J Segeyaro 2 D Simmons 2 L Brown D Whare tries; L Walsh 5 M Moylan goals) PARRAMATTA 12 (J Hayne V Toutai tries; C Sandow 2 goals) at Centrebet Stadium. Referee: Jason Robinson, Gavin Reynolds. Crowd: 14,211.

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