Wests Tigers announce signing of forward Russell Packer

Dragons forward Russell Packer is tackled during an NRL match against the Wests Tigers in 2016. Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Dragons forward Russell Packer is tackled during an NRL match against the Wests Tigers in 2016. Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

The Wests Tigers have continued to bolster their stocks ahead of the 2018 season.

The NRL club has announced the signing of forward Russell Packer, who will leave the St George-Illawarra Dragons to join the Tigers from next year.

Packer will remain at the club until at least the end of the 2021 season.

The announcement continues the Tigers’ spending spree in recent weeks in preparation for the 2018 season.

The club has already signed Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds, New Zealand forward Ben Matulino and Titans veteran Chris McQueen.

The Tigers also recently snared Panther Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, effective immediately.

Conversely, Wests have also lost some key players for the 2018 season, namely captain Aaron Woods (Bulldogs), fullback James Tedesco (Roosters) and five-eighth Mitchell Moses (Parramatta)

Tigers five-eighth Mitchell Moses has signed with the Parramatta Eels. Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Tigers five-eighth Mitchell Moses has signed with the Parramatta Eels. Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Packer, 27, has played 142 NRL games since making his debut in 2008.

He played for the New Zealand Warriors on 110 occasions and has represented the Dragons in 32 games.

Packer has also played three Tests for New Zealand, including last month’s Anzac Day Test against Australia in Canberra.

Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary said Packer had been one of the standout front rowers in the NRL this season.

“He’s a no-nonsense front rower, he knows his job and he delivers... I think he’s only going to get better,” he said.

Cleary was coach at the New Zealand Warriors when the club signed Packer in 2008.

“He’s a no-nonsense front rower, he knows his job and he delivers... I think he’s only going to get better." - Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary

Cleary said Packer was “pretty wild” during his stint at the Warriors and the forward’s setbacks had been “well documented”.

Over the past decade, Packer’s controversies have included a stint in prison after being found guilty of punching a man on a night out in 2013.

However, Cleary said Packer was now a “completely different man to the one I first met”.

“He’s really changed, he’d the first to admit he had to make some mistakes to get to where he is now,” he said.

Dragons forward Russell Packer. Photo: Getty Images

Dragons forward Russell Packer. Photo: Getty Images

Cleary said he believed Packer would have a strong leadership role at the Tigers.

“He’s got a great story, a story of hard knocks and coming out the other side, which will really resonate with a lot of the boys here.

“He’s very keen to help us re-grow what we have here at Wests Tigers, and they’re the sort of guys we want on board.” (Full interview with Cleary below):

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