Russell Packer should be allowed to return to the NRL this year, his St George Illawarra teammate Benji Marshall believes.
Packer has been refused a return to the NRL this year by the game’s governing body after he was released from prison in January after serving one-year term for a vicious assault.
The former Warriors forward has been allowed to return to training with the Dragons, but has been told he is only permitted to play NSW Cup for the rest of 2015.
It is a situation Marshall says is unfair.
“It would be tough for him, obviously he would be eager to come up and play with us,” Marshall told AAP.
“He has been training with the (Illawarra) Cutters and training really well.
“He has got his life back on track, he has done his time in jail and I think he feels that he has learnt his lesson
“We can’t control what the NRL, does they obviously take it case by case but there are some other players that have been in similar positions and got off a lot lighter than Russell.
“I just hope he can still play this year.”
Marshall knows Packer well from their time in the New Zealand Test side together. The former Kiwi skipper conceded Packer has had a problem with alcohol but has since sworn off the drink.
“I know him from a long way back, he is a great guy, a great family man,” Marshall said.
“He had his issues with alcohol off the field, he has addressed that now he doesn’t drink anymore and he is someone we would like to have around the club.
“A lot people make bad decisions when alcohol is involved and that is what he put his problem down to.
“He has addressed that and the Russell I know is not the one that has been portrayed after the incident that found him in jail.
“The Russell I know is a family friendly guy who loves being around his teammates and his family so for us that is the Russell we see when we go and have coffee with him after training.”