James Segeyaro has credited a new-found love of Pilates with helping to save his season.
Segeyaro returned from a 13-week absence with a broken arm for Cronulla on Saturday night and could start for the Sharks in their must-win clash with South Sydney on Friday night.
With the release of Manaia Cherrington and Daniel Mortimer, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan turned to back-up half Fa’amanu Brown for Cronulla’s last two matches to replace hooker Jayden Brailey after the young star suffered a badly broken jaw against Manly.
But Segeyaro’s return has come at just the right time for Cronulla. The 26-year-old is much fitter and stronger than when he arrived at the club in March after Sharks head of performance Andrew Gray tailored a program around Segeyaro’s injury allowing him to build his fitness with hours of grueling running.
On top of that, Segeyaro was sent to Pilates classes – a physical fitness system that helps athletes strengthen, stretch and stabilise key muscles with particular benefits for core strength.
“It’s awesome. I go to Menai, [Pilates Insync] with Helen. Andrew Gray decided to send me there because I have weak groins [and hamstrings] and it’s been amazing,” Segeyaro said.
“I would recommend Pilates to anyone that has got back or hip or lower ab problems. It’s helped me tremendously. I can just feel by the way I’m running, I’m running more freely. I’m not pulling up so much.
“[During my lay-off] I was running non-stop. I was pretty much getting flogged twice a week but it was good.
“[Pilates] helped my running and stuff that I was allowed to work on it and get better which was a weakness beforehand. I was given time to do that having 12 weeks off. I wasn’t breaking down because I was playing every weekend and trying to maintain [my fitness].
“I sort of had another pre-season within season. It was bad how everything happened and being out for a couple of weeks but it was good in that sense that I could work on things that were making me weaker in the big scheme of things.
Segeyaro is feeling so good that he believes he is ready to play 80 minutes. He managed 43 minutes in his comeback against the Gold Coast in horrendous conditions and took confidence from his performance as well as the way he pulled up.
Cronulla’s clash with Souths looms as an important one for their top four aspirations. The reigning premiers slipped to fifth after last weekend and will look to celebrate veteran forward Luke Lewis’ 300th NRL game with a victory.
“It’s very condensed. We should have won on the weekend. We’re just putting pressure on ourselves but come this Friday it’s massive for us,” Segeyaro said.
“We really need to capitalise on these [games] especially against teams who aren’t in the eight. We can’t lose a game now and then try to make up for it in the back end. We have to win these games so this sets up our top four finish.”