Russell Packer to join Wests Tigers on four-year contract
Kiwis prop Russell Packer will be reunited with former Warriors mentor Ivan Cleary after signing a four-year deal with the Wests Tigers.
Packer, 27, has played 142 NRL games for the Warriors and St George Illawarra Dragons since his NRL debut under Cleary in 2008
The Foxton product has resurrected his career after spending a year in jail in 2014 after being convicted in a Sydney court of assaulting a 22-year-old man, fracturing his eye socket.
Packer returned to the Kiwis for this month's Anzac test against Australia, earning his third cap -six years after his 2011 debut.
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He played his best football under Cleary at the Warriors and will now rejoin him at the Tigers until the end of the 2021 season.
Cleary said in a statement on the Tigers' website that he was looking forward to working with Packer again.
"Russell has been one of the standout front-rowers in the NRL this season," Cleary said.
"He's a no-nonsense front rower, he really knows what his job is and he delivers and I think he's only going to get better.
"I think he's going to have a very strong leadership role here. He's got a great story, a story of hard knocks and coming out the other side, and that will resonate with lots of the boys here.
"He's very keen to help us regrow what we have here at Wests Tigers, and they're the sort of guys we want on board," he said.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said that Packer's experience on and off the field will be an asset to the club.
"I'm expecting Russell to bring a lot to Wests Tigers, both on and off the field," said Pascoe.
"Here's someone who has turned his life around and is now seeing the results of that change as he steps up to be one of the premier forwards in the game and returns to the International stage.
"As excited as we are with what he will bring to us during the game each week we're equally excited with the role he'll play at the club away from the football field," he said.
"We've made some really strong signings over the last month and look forward to welcoming players such as Russell, Josh Reynolds, Ben Matulino and Chris McQueen to the club next season."
Packer is studying for a MBA degree and was awarded the Mark Coyne Career Development Award for his ongoing studies at the University of Wollongong in 2016.