Russell Packer of the Dragons is tackled by Gavin Cooper and Patrick Kaufusi of the Cowboys.
Russell Packer of the Dragons is tackled by Gavin Cooper and Patrick Kaufusi of the Cowboys. DEAN LEWINS

Tigers coach hoping Russell Packer signing can boost club

WESTS Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has hailed reformed prop Russell Packer as a signing that will help transform the troubled off-field culture at Concord.

Packer's lucrative four-year deal with the Tigers was announced on Tuesday morning, luring the Kiwi Test front-rower from rivals St George Illawarra with a deal believed to be worth over $200,000 a season more than the Dragons' own three-year offer.

The 27-year-old will join former Warriors teammate Ben Matulino next year as a two-pronged replacement for Bulldogs-bound skipper Aaron Woods.

Two years ago Packer resurrected his career and turned his life around with the Dragons, after a serving a 12-month prison stint for stomping the head of a man in a brutal Sydney CBD assault in 2013.

Having taken over a club that has been embroiled in drug scandals, charity scams and endless roster turnover - which have been linked to welfare issues - Cleary declared Packer, the "wild" teenager he recruited at the Warriors over a decade ago, was the man to help shape the club's off-field rebuild.

"Russell has been one of the standout front-rowers in the NRL this season," Cleary said.

"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."

News Corp Australia

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