Wests Tigers Announce 'Massive' New Signing

Read the statement here.

Wests Tigers Announce 'Massive' New Signing

Photo: Getty Images

New Zealand Test prop Russell Packer has signed to join Wests Tigers on a four-year deal as new coach Ivan Cleary's team rebuild rolls on.

The 27-year-old Packer will arrive from St George Illawarra for next season, joining recent Cleary signings in fellow Kiwi Test prop Ben Matulino and Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds.

The next big piece in the puzzle is expected to be out-of-favour Warriors utility back Tuimoala Lolohea as Cleary moves to replace his departing stars Aaron Woods, Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco.

While he is losing NSW prop Woods, Cleary has ensured the Tigers get some much-needed grunt and go-forward with the addition of Packer and Matulino, both of whom he coached when at the helm of the Warriors.

"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," said Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary. Read the full statement below.

Packer has resurrected his NRL career since joining the Dragons in the past two seasons after he served 12 months in jail for assault.

He has played a total of 142 NRL games with the Warriors and St George Illawarra since making his debut in 2008 and played his third Test for New Zealand in the recent clash with Australia.

"I feel sorry for the Dragons because they threw him a lifeline, but obviously he's paid his dues there both on and off the field," Triple M's Wendell Sailor said.

Triple M's Ryan Girdler added it was a natural consequence of the Dragon's strong recruitment over the last few months.

"If you go out there and spend two million on two players and then you've got another guy who wants a million, you really need to let some players go," Girds said.

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.

Wests Tigers Official Statement

Photo: Getty Images

Wests Tigers are pleased to announce the signing of New Zealand international forward Russell Packer for the coming four NRL seasons.

The new agreement will see Packer join Wests Tigers for at least the end of 2021.

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.

Wests Tigers Head 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.

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.”

Away from the field Packer is currently undertaking an MBA and was awarded the Mark Coyne Career Development Award for his ongoing studies at the University of Wollongong in 2016.

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