Reformed bad boy Packer backs Lodge’s NRL return
REFORMED NRL bad boy Russell Packer admits he's a living example of the way someone like Matt Lodge can make the most of a second chance in the game.
Lodge will make a controversial return to the league this season after an alcohol-fuelled rampage in New York in 2015 resulted in a year-long ban from the competition.
Despite failing to pay any of the $1.56 million in damages he owes his victims, the NRL has defended its decision to allow him back into the game with Brisbane.
The governing body's officials privately believe Lodge can redeem himself in the same manner as Kiwis international Packer, who was last week made co-captain at the Wests Tigers.
"I can't speak on Matt Lodge. I don't know him personally or his situation," Packer said.
"All I can say is the journey I had was with a lot of help doing the right thing first and foremost and taking responsibility for things that happened in the past.
"You work through all the steps required to try and have that as a possibility in the future."
The 28-year-old made his own contentious return to the NRL two years ago after spending a year in jail for assault in 2013.
He spent two years at St George Illawarra, where he became a starting prop before making his representative comeback with New Zealand in last year's World Cup.
Packer says he's an obvious advocate for second chances.
"Playing in the NRL isn't a right that we have. We have to earn it as rugby league players and whether it's myself or Matt everyone in the competition's no different," he said.
"If we looked at it that way, we look at ourselves as more than rugby league players and just how we play on the field. All the things that happened off the field do have an impact on our life.
"I'm an example of that.
"Good luck to Matt. I think if he's doing the right things and making good strides, then clearly I'd be an advocate for a second chance, as someone that was granted one through hard work."