The Wests Tigers have announced 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.

SEE ALSO:  How many players has your club used in 2018?

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.

Wests Tigers 2018 Player Movements

2018 Gains
Mahe Fonua (Hull FC, 2019), Tyson Gamble (2019), Heath Gibbs (2018), Pita Godinet (Manly Sea Eagles, 2018), Tuimoala Lolohea (New Zealand Warriors, 2019), Benji Marshall (Brisbane Broncos, 2018), Ben Matulino (New Zealand Warriors, 2020), Moses Mbye (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2022), Sam McIntyre (2018), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast Titans, 2020), Thomas Mikaele (2018), Taane Milne (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2018), Russell Packer (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2021), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2021), Robbie Rochow (Melbourne Storm, 2019), Dylan Smith (2018), Corey Thompson (Widnes Vikings, 2019), Alex Twal (Parramatta Eels, 2020), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers, 2018)
2018 Losses
Matt Ballin (retired), Joel Edwards (released), Justin Hunt (retired), Jamal Idris (retired), Jack Littlejohn (Salford Red Devils), Kyle Lovett (Leigh Centurions), Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm), Jordan Rankin (Huddersfield Giants), Ava Seumanufagai (Cronulla Sharks), Moses Suli (Manly Sea Eagles), Junior Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Aaron Woods (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Josh Aloiai (2019), Luke Brooks (2019), Michael Chee-Kam (2019), Matthew Eisenhuth (2020), Tim Grant (2018), Jacob Liddle (2019), Matt McIlwrick (2019), Kevin Naiqama (2021), David Nofoaluma (2021), Elijah Taylor (2020)
Off Contract 2018
JJ Felise, Heath Gibbs, Pita Godinet, Tim Grant, Benji Marshall, Sam McIntyre, Thomas Mikaele, Dylan Smith, Sauaso Sue, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
SEE ALSO:  Samoa name squad for Pacific Test against Tonga


  1. No respect for the dragons here. Give him an early release and let him try and help the tigers this year and hopefully misses out on playing finals with the dragons this year

  2. Packer has been great for us, but you can’t keep ’em all. Packer leaving was always on the cards with recruiting Hunt and re-signing Widdop and others. Now hopefully that gives us a bit of flexibilty in trying to re-sign Dugan.

    • Now to sign Dugan, the thought of seeing him and the drugnulla makes me sick. I’m not unhappy to see Packer go, but dragons would feel peeved given how hard they fought to give him a second chance. Leilua should get his chance surely now.

      • Agree Daffy. A lot of work behind the scenes a couple of years ago

        While I like what Packer does, it is just not enough. He can’t eek out more than 40 minutes per game. The excuses that he wasn’t match fit due to his absence from the game are now clearly invalid.

        4 years more years of 40 minutes per game. Not worth it.

      • Things not looking rosy for the merged venture at all. No body seems to want to pledge to the red v (unless they pay way overs as they usually do). Don’t worry champ, most of us Sharks fans don’t want to see Dugan in the shire either. Paying way overs for a conceited dude with his injury history is more in line with Doust’s recruitment policy than ours.

        • Haaa bbbj the joke will be on you guys if junkies pay way way way overs for the Duges
          Haaa haaa

  3. I think Tigers will sneak into the 8 next year.

    1 Lolohea
    2 Nofoaluma
    3 Zelezniak
    4 Fonua
    5 Suli
    6 Reynolds
    7 Brooks
    8 Packer
    9 McIlwrick
    10 Matulino
    11 McQueen
    12 Lawrence
    13 Taylor

    14 Sue
    15 Liddle
    16 Chee-Kam
    17 Aloiai

  4. A bit hard to believe that Packer decided to sign with the Tigers over a one-year difference in the contract offered to him. That would seem incredibly self-interested. The Dragons must have decided to let Russell go in order to promote the younger guys coming through. Also, Masoe is in the mix there somewhere, although it’s a stretch to imagine the Dragons will re-sign him after his non-performance over the past two seasons.

    • The tigers offer was an extra year and worth about $200k more per season that the dragons offer.
      Dragons then decided it wasnt worth matching the tigers offer with the juniors we have coming through.

      • Also it’s a bit disappointing packer didn’t decide to resign considering that he wouldn’t have had any offer on the table if it wasn’t for the dragons putting the faith into him and helping him rehabilitate when no one else would.

  5. Life’s little roller coaster.. all the best Russ.
    I hope that you have some fond memories of Saints and have to say you proved me wrong in terms of regaining your status as a decent human being again.

  6. Tigers team 2018:
    1. Tuimoala Lolohea
    2. Peta Hiku (Tigers interested in him)
    3. Mahe Fonua
    4. Corey Thompson
    5. David Nofoaluma
    6. Josh Reynolds
    7. Luke Brooks
    8. Ben Matulino/Sausoe Sue (who ever plays better)
    9. Matt Mcilwrick (if they get Lichaa then Lichaa will play there)
    10. Russell Packer
    11. Chris McQueen
    12. Chris Lawrence (c)
    13. Elijah Taylor
    14. Sausoe Sue
    15. Josh Aloiai
    16. Susoe Sue/Ben Matulino
    17. Jamal Idris (if he doesn’t retire)

    I also heard they are interested in Israel Folau. Highly doubt they will get him but at the moment it seems like Tigers have the $$. I think the Hiku and Lichaa is a chance as Hiku has not been inform at Panthers and Lichaa wont get game time next year.

Comments are closed.