CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 04: Russell Packer of New Zealand looks on during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup match between the New Zealand Kiwis and Scotland at AMI Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images)

The word redemption is thrown around much too loosely in the world of rugby league.

Australian media have not yet come to the realisation that being good at sport, does not undo your prior indiscretions nor does it make you a good person.

Russell Packer, on the other hand, is the epitome of what a true redemption story is.

Known for his disgraceful on-field antics which included being caught by cameras urinating on a field prior to a game against the Brisbane Broncos in 2013 before serving a two-year prison sentence after a cowardly act five months later.

Fast forward five years and Packer is now co-captain of the Wests Tigers football club. At 28 years of age, is the youngest class member studying an executive MBA at the University of New South Wales.

He has also overhauled his playing style, which hasn’t seen him miss a game of football through suspension since his return to the NRL in 2015.

The most redeeming factor of them all may very well be the fact that Packer has owned up to his mistakes, rather than talk his way around them.

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Owning up to his off-field irresponsibilities as ‘choices’ rather than mistakes is a true credit to the character of Russell and his ability to own his issues and turn his life around.

This is something the likes of Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Mitchell Pearce, Jarryd Hayne, Todd Carney, Matthew Lodge et al have been unable to achieve thus far in their careers.


  1. ‘Rusty’ is in every respect a credit to himself – sorry he had to move on Saints will miss him 2018.

  2. No-one could ever condone or excuse what he did but he’s served his time, admitted to his crime and has tried to make. Good luck to him I say. One of rugby league’s enduring charms is its forgiveness, and Packer is a good example. Even though he isn’t at Saints anymore, I wish him well.

  3. Because he went to prison for two years for bashing a man during a booze-fuelled night, and stomped on his victim’s face as he man lay motionless on the ground, and then he did some study, that make him a better person than the other players you have listed?? Anyone convicted of assault should be banned for the game for life.

  4. Well done Russell.
    For a person to turn their life around like you have is a credit to yourself and everyone that’s helped you.

    Although I don’t like what he did everyone makes mistakes some worse than others but everyone deserves a second chance.

    It’s also good to see Lodge get a chance also.
    What I would like see to happen is guys like Packer and Lodge get into jails and juvenile centres and help those who have gone off the rails and try and make them a better person also.

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