A team can never keep all the players they want and so rival clubs pounce, as the Wests Tigers confirm the signing of St George Illawarra Dragons prop Russell Packer.
Since making his debut in 2008, Packer has played in 142 NRL games to date and represented New Zealand at the international level.
Packer and Tigers coach Ivan Cleary are no strangers, with Cleary handing Packer his NRL debut back in 2008.
Praising his form so far in 2017, Cleary believes that Packer will only get better and that he will play a crucial role in the club’s leadership structure.
“Russell has been one of the standout front-rowers in the NRL this season,” said Cleary.
“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.”
In need of props with the departure of both Aaron Woods and Ava Seumanufagai for the 2018 season, the club and coach Cleary believe Packer is a good fit.
“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,” Cleary continued.
“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.”
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe also praised the signing.
“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.”
Packer will likely partner fellow new recruit Ben Matulino in the starting front-row rotation as the Tigers look to rebuild their side.
“As excited as we are with what he will bring to us during the game each week, we’re equally excited about 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.”