Prop paid $90k per game retires from NRL

3 weeks ago 11
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Russell Packer has announced his retirement from the NRL after 184 first grade games, taking arguably the most contentious contract in the game off the books of the Wests Tigers.

Packer finishes up his NRL career having played with the Warriors, Dragons and most recently the Tigers, who he joined on a massive four year deal during the Ivan Cleary era.

The 31-year-old was famously handed an NRL lifeline when in 2015, he joined the Dragons after serving a jail sentence for assaulting a man, which had threatened to end his rugby league career.

Following three years at the Dragons, Packer joined the Tigers on a reported $3 million deal over four seasons but has since only played 33 games for the Concord-based club. The prop has ultimately earned more than $90,000 per game for the Tigers, with the deal becoming a huge issue for the club's salary cap as the front-rower struggled through form and injury issues and dropped out of first grade.

Packer played 19 games in his first season with the Tigers in 2018 under Cleary, however, he has struggled to see time on the field under Michael Maguire.

Russell Packer of the Tigers (Getty)

"Rugby league has been my life since I was 17 and it's always been a constant, so I'll definitely miss that," Packer said in a club statement.  

"I got to play in a grand final and play for New Zealand early in my career, and while my life took a different path, being able to come back and re-establish myself and reach the pinnacle again with international football was a very special moment for me and my family.

"I'm incredibly proud of the way we have fought through the adversity we have.   

"With the injuries too that I've had in the past few seasons, this decision is something that I've been contemplating for a while. But it's allowed me to be thankful this year and leave it all out there.

"I've noticed particularly through COVID just how special sport can be and I've really enjoyed what I have been able to achieve in the game.  

"I'm also incredibly thankful for the opportunity I had to captain Wests Tigers/

"I never expected to be made captain of a club, so it was a massive moment for not only myself but all who have been on the journey with me to get to that point."

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