16 May 2017

Packer re-unites with Cleary at Tigers

12:33 pm on 16 May 2017

Former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has managed to lure another Kiwi international to the Wests Tigers.

Russell Packer

Russell Packer Photo: Photosport

The Tigers have signed Kiwi's prop Russell Packer on a four-year NRL deal.

The 27-year-old is set to replace departing NSW Origin prop Aaron Woods when he joins the Tigers next season.

Packer has played 142 NRL games since making his debut in 2008 and three tests for New Zealand, the most recent being this month's Anzac Test in Canberra.

The 27-year-old has taken to the field for the New Zealand Warriors 110 times and the St George Illawarra Dragons on 32 occasions.

Packer spent a year in Australian prison for assault in 2014.

Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary said that he was looking forward to working with Packer again after giving him his debut in 2008.

"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.

"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.

Packer is the second player that has signed with the Tigers that Cleary coached while at the Warriors.

Last month Warriors prop Ben Matulino signed a three year deal with Tigers after failing to agree to terms with the Warriors.

Cleary is also trying to lure the signature of unwanted Warriors utility back Tuimoala Lolohea to the club but the Warriors have refused the 22-year-old's request for an immediate release from his contract.

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 has played 142 NRL games with the Warriors and then St George Illawarra since making his debut in 2008.