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.
“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.
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: Tyson Gamble (2019), Tuimoala Lolohea (New Zealand Warriors, 2019), Ben Matulino (New Zealand Warriors, 2020), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast Titans, 2020), Russell Packer (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2021), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2021), Alex Twal (Parramatta Eels, 2020), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers, 2018)|
|2018 Losses: Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm), Ava Seumanufagai (Cronulla Sharks), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Aaron Woods (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)|
|Re-Signed: Josh Aloiai (2019), Luke Brooks (2019), Michael Chee-Kam (2019), David Nofoaluma (2021), Moses Suli (2020)|
|Off Contract 2017: Matt Ballin, Joel Edwards, Tim Grant, Watson Heleta, Justin Hunt, Jamal Idris, Jack Littlejohn, Kyle Lovett, Matt McIlwrick, Kevin Naiqama, Jordan Rankin|