Russell Packer shocked to lose job after receiving prison sentence

Packer’s family are struggling to understand why the Newcastle Knights had to “kick him while he’s down,” terminating his employment so soon after he received a two-year prison sentence.

Packer’s family are struggling to understand why the Newcastle Knights had to “kick him while he’s down,” terminating his employment so soon after he received a two-year prison sentence.

Former Warriors prop Russell Packer says he was shocked today to learn that his contract with the Newcastle Knights had been terminated, following a two-year prison sentence he received for the drunken assault of a 22-year-old outside a Sydney hotel.

Packer and his family had already expressed great surprise at his original sentence, saying it was “unfathomable” that a prominent rugby league player could be jailed for something as simple and harmless as the physical assault of another human being.

“It’s a bolt out of the blue, I’m gutted, mate,” said Packer’s father at the time. “There are people around who do all sorts of things, and they get a slap on the hand.”

But Packer, also stunned by the sentence, was apparently even more dismayed today to learn – unexpectedly – that he had lost his contract with the Newcastle Knights.

“This too, surprises me,” wrote Packer in a statement. “Just when you hit your lowest, and you feel like you can’t go any lower, they take something else away from you, and you’re just left trying to figure out why.”

Packer said he did “not understand” the decision, and would be considering in the coming days whether to appeal it.

At a brief media conference held earlier today, Knights CEO Matt Gidley said the decision to dump Packer had been a difficult one, but that, after many days of deliberation, they had come to the conclusion that it was “untenable” for Packer to play league “from prison.”

“As far as we understand it, the cells are quite small, so we couldn’t really have a game in there,” he explained. “In addition to that, while I’ve never been to prison, personally, I think how it works is that Russell’s actually not allowed to leave; not even for a few hours.”

The media’s general reaction to Gidley’s revelations about prison were that it did seem “a little bit harsh.”

“What about weekends?” asked one Sky News reporter.

“No, you can’t even leave on weekends,” replied Gidley.

Packer told media today that he understood that “actions have consequences,” but “not consequences this bad.”

On February 11th, he will lodge an appeal of the severity of his prison sentence, at which time he is likely to argue that the judge who sentenced him did not understand just how bad jail is.