James Segeyaro has expressed his debt of gratitude to former coach Ivan Cleary for making him the player and person he is today as the Broncos utility prepares to play his 150th first grade game against the Panthers on Friday night.
The 28-year-old said it was only now with hindsight that he could fully appreciate "what sort of bloke and mentor Ivan was" during the three seasons he spent under Cleary from 2013 to 2015.
It was at Penrith that Segeyaro played some of the best football of his career, including the 2014 season where he was Dally M Hooker of the Year.
"Ivan was massive. I was very young in the mind and now that I look back he certainly taught me a lot that I still keep doing to this day in footy," Segeyaro said.
"He was more of a coach who allows you to think for yourself and express yourself. He realises that football isn't black and white and that things aren’t going to be perfect all the time and that there is a bit of grey in there. He lets you make your own decisions and correct yourself.
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"I would do video with him where I thought I had made an error and he would question me on a play I had done, and it allowed me to think about it for myself and answer it for myself. It was two-way feedback instead of someone telling you what to do, and that way when you were in the same situation again you’d correct yourself.”
Segeyaro said Cleary helped him develop as a player and acquire new skills in his kit bag.
"He allowed me to play footy instead of being a one-dimensional player so I was able to develop a kicking game and passing game," he said.
"I rang him when he got moved on [in 2016] and said that he was such an influence on my life and I thanked him for everything. Under him I was always developing and learning.
"I still cherish those days and cherish him always being there and supporting me and helping me develop as a rugby league player and human being."
Segeyaro reflected on how he too was "moved on" from Penrith in 2016 by new coach Anthony Griffin before joining the Sharks. In 2018 he won three games against his old club and is determined to continue that run at Suncorp Stadium.
"Even when I was at Cronulla, every time I came up against Penrith it was always one of those games that was easy to get up for. If you aren’t getting up for it you shouldn’t be playing rugby league," he said.
"Because I got moved on and there was always that bittersweet [feeling] of defeating Penrith. In a way it could be an ego thing, but as soon as I cross that line whoever is in front of me is an enemy and I just want to win.”
The Broncos hooker said he was relishing his time under Anthony Seibold and that there were similarities with Cleary.
"Seibs asks a lot of questions. There is a lot of two-way feedback and he is a caring kind of coach," Segeyaro said.
"I am really loving it here and there are similarities to Ivan that I see."
Segeyaro said he was yet to sort out his future for next year but hoped to re-sign with Brisbane.
"Hopefully I will stay here at the Broncos. The fact is that it has to come down to my management and which is the best choice for me," he said.
"It always seems to be the case at this time of year I am trying to get my contract sorted. It would be good to get it sorted soon so I can solely focus on getting a good run into the finals."