Former NRL prop sentenced to two years in jail for his crime.
The Newcastle Knights have announced they have cut ties with off-season signing Russell Packer, after he pleaded guilty to a drunken assault last year.
The former New Zealand Warriors prop was sentenced to two years in prison for his crime, with supporters and sponsors putting pressure on the club to cut ties with the controversial player.
Packer is appealing the two year sentence handed for for his crime, but his rugby league career looks to be all but over, with the club chief executive Matt Gidley saying the Knights could move on now the matter has been dealt with in the courts.
“There was never any doubt we would terminate Russell’s employment following Monday’s sentence however we had a process,” Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said.
“As we stated from the beginning and when we stood Russell down, first and foremost it was a legal process.
“At our first opportunity to meet with Russell, we advised him in person of our decision.” According to the statement the Knights “will continue its duty of care to ensure the welfare of Russell’s partner and two young children, who relocated to Newcastle last month”.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett said the entire situation was unfortunate, but that he was focused on getting the side ready for its first pre-season game.
“As a club, we knew this was a no-win situation and we accepted that,” said Bennett.
“We had a responsibility to handle this situation in a manner mindful of his young family, the club, its sponsors, members and the community as a whole.
“Until Sunday, no person including family members, had been allowed access to Russell.
“To reiterate, Russell acted independently on the night of the incident and was stood down as soon as the facts were established. “We are all extremely disappointed and have never condoned Russell’s actions, however he still had a right to be informed of our decision first.
“Sponsors, corporate partners, members and fans who have supported the administration throughout this process knew we were doing what was right, despite criticism.”