Russell Packer granted visa to stay in Australia

St George Illawarra prop, Russell Packer (Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Kuia) has been given clearance to remain in Australia by the Federal Immigration Department, who notified Packers legal representation last night.

“I can’t really say much – but I can confirm that he’s been given a second chance”, said Russell Packer Sr, confirming to Te Kāea today the good news for the family.

“He rang me late last night to tell me the good news, now he just wants to get on with it” continued Packer Sr, from his Foxton residence.

Packer, 26, was sentenced to two years in prison in January 2014 after being found guilty of occasioning actual bodily harm, in a Sydney CBD brawl, in November 2013, leaving the 22-year-old victim with numerous facial injuries and two fractured facial bones.

His club, the St. George-Illawarra Dragons has always stood by Packer since news broke of his potential deportation, following the intensification of immigration and deportation policies in Australia.

“The Dragons have been advised by Russell Packer’s legal team of the positive outcome with respect to his immigration status,’’ a club statement said. “The Dragons and Russell respect the process, are pleased by the outcome and have no further comment to make on this situation.

“Russell’s position at the Dragons remains unchanged, in that he continues to train full time in preparation for the 2016 season.’’

The immigration row was just the latest hurdle Packer has had to overcome to get his NRL career back on track. Following his release from prison he was signed by the Dragons but spent most of 2015 in limbo with the NRL delaying a decision on whether he could play any form of the game.

The Foxton native has completed a Certificate IV in Community Services for Wollongong TAFE, in which, those closest to him say “he’s a changed man.”

“He knows what he has to do now, all he has to do is get on with it”, continues Packer's father.

Sports journalist, Raniera Harrison will have the latest developments on Russell Packer tonight on Te Kāea, 5:30pm, on Māori Television.