A SECOND-LAST finish in 2012, salary cap pressure, and no guarantee of a starting spot.
Those were the circumstances Panthers recruit James Segeyaro walked into when his new team started pre-season training last month.
But the livewire No.9 said he believed both he and the western Sydney club had a bright future.
Segeyaro left the Cowboys for a three-year contract with Penrith, saying the battle with captain Kevin Kingston for the hooker's starting spot was one that excited him.
"It (the battle with Kingston) will bring the best out of me," the 22-year-old said. "It'll be like my combination with Aaron Payne at the Cowboys last season - Kevvy will probably start and I won't mind coming on after 25 minutes."
Fully recovered after an awkward fall on his ankle in June against the Titans that saw him miss the remainder of last season, Segeyaro said he already saw Penrith as his comfortable new home.
"It feels like home to me down here already - everyone's been so welcoming," he said. "All the boys have been saying there's a better feel around the place compared to last year - the goal in 2013 is to better last season.
"(Panthers general manager) Phil Gould and (coach) Ivan Cleary came up with some great signings like Lewis Brown, Sika Manu, Wes Naiqama, Jeremy Latimore, Mose Masoe and Dean Whare.
"Those guys have made their presence felt and it looks like we're moving forward."
Segeyaro said he was also adamant talk of representative players Michael Jennings, Tim Grant, Lachlan Coote and Sam McKendry being forced to take pay cuts had not affected his, or the team's enthusiasm.
The Panthers are under significant salary cap pressure because of the contracts agreed to by the representative quartet and previous management.
Like most players, Segeyaro said he supported the push by the Rugby League Players' Association to have the salary cap lifted to $6.5 million.
And he said he wasn't surprised to see former Cowboys teammate Johnathan Thurston in discussions with the Bulldogs recently for a move to Belmore.
"I'd love to see the cap lifted - if you do the work, you should get rewarded," Segeyaro said. "JT's going on 30 and he wants to look after his future - he's an absolute champion and deserves every cent."
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