PENRITH hooker James Segeyaro continues to deliver killer punches to his old club North Queensland.
First he unexpectedly packed his bags and moved from Townsville to Sydney this year when the Cowboys thought his future was seemingly locked in with them.
The spritely 22-year-old's absence at the base of the ruck, along with the retirement of established No 9 Aaron Payne, is listed as one of the major reasons the Cowboys have faltered after being among the pre-season favourites.
"I haven't thought about that much -- what me leaving did," Segeyaro said as he prepares to face his old club on Sunday at Centrebet Stadium.
"I was more focused on my job at Penrith.
|James Segeyaro. Photo. penrithpanthers.com|
"But it has been hard watching them. I spent four years there so was really tight with the boys."That slow start to the year has hurt them. But they bounced back last week against Souths and now they want to take us too.
"Hopefully I can help stop that from happening."
And that's where Segeyaro can be the thorn in the Cowboys' side for a second time this year.
He hasn't missed a game for the Panthers and has been in sparkling form.
"I love his timing, his energy, his offloads," said Penrith skipper and his partner in the hooking role, Kevin Kingston.
"He definitely has all the skills."
North Queensland needs to win each of its remaining five matches to keep its finals hopes alive. Penrith hasn't played in the finals since 2010.
Segeyaro is the sort of player that can spark enough action to end the Cowboys' hopes of playing September football.
"It's a must win for us," Segeyaro said.
"We need to focus on ourselves and turn around the things that let us down against the Roosters."
Segeyaro has other reasons to beat his old teammates.
"They pulled our pants down last time," he said, referring to the 30-0 whitewash in round five in Townsville. "It was embarrassing. So we want to do the same to them down here."
The Cowboys have struggled to find a regular hooker.
"They have had a lack of consistency in that No 9 spot, trying Rory (Kostjasyn) and bringing over Scott Moore," Segeyaro said.
"I thought Ray (Thompson) should have had it at the start. I thought he suits that role best.
"In saying that, it's no disrespect to the others. But Ray's time in the halves means he offers a bit more than just passing out of dummy-half.
"That's my opinion and I think it showed against Souths. Johnathan (Thurston) had to be freed up more and he was. It all starts from the ruck area."
Segeyaro is also firm on why he signed with the Panthers.
"Gus Gould. He and the other managers showed me the plan for the next five years in building this club back up," he said.
"I just felt I was wanted more here than up there. He told me what I wanted to hear."
The Panthers have three of their remaining five games against sides outside the top eight -- Cowboys, Warriors and Brisbane.
"It's not much comfort when you know who those three are," Kingston said. "But it makes for some good, desperate footy."