Tue 10 Dec 2019, 06:00 PM
Having spent a year in jail, Russell Packer knows all too well how things can go badly wrong as an NRL player. The rehabilitated Wests Tigers prop told his story to 89 emerging first-graders at the 2020 Rookie Camp in western Sydney last weekend. The camp, designed for players on their first NRL contracts or train-and-trial deals, was a two-day crash course in social responsibility and managing the pressures faced by elite athletes.
Packer captivated the rookies as he read a powerful letter to his younger self, detailing his rough upbringing and the poor decision-making that culminated in an assault conviction in 2014.
“For Russell to talk about what he experienced and the decisions he made makes it pretty real for the guys,” said NRL wellbeing and engagement programs manager Tony McFadyen. “It just holds so much more weight.”