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- Roy Masters: Pearce's behaviour will have long-term implications for game
- Malcolm Knox: NRL must stare down The Outrage before deciding punishment
- Brad Walter: The incident Pearce failed to learn from
Reformed former prison inmate Russell Packer believes time away from the game might be the best thing for troubled Roosters star Mitchell Pearce.
Mitchell Pearce fronts the media
Mitchell Pearce makes a brief statement apologising for his drunken behaviour caught on camera on Australia Day.
Pearce left the country on Friday to undergo rehabilitation for alcohol issues after boozy Australia Day celebrations, in which he was filmed simulating a lewd act with a dog having allegedly urinated on himself, left his NRL career hanging by a thread.
The latest scandal to engulf the code comes in a week in which Packer will take another step towards redemption when he makes his top-grade debut for the Dragons in their trial match against Wynnum-Manly in Brisbane on Saturday.
It will the be the first time Packer has worn NRL colours since being released from prison last year after serving 12 months of a two-year sentence for a drunken assault.
The sentence forced Packer to confront his own issues with alcohol and prescription drug abuse that derailed his life and career. He believes time away from the game could give Pearce the same opportunity.
"I don't know Mitch personally, but good people can make bad decisions and that may be the case there," Packer said.
"He's come out and said he's got some problems. We all have problems in our life and it takes a strong person to admit them and put your hand up and try and go away and try and sort that stuff out.
"I can only judge off what I went through and sometimes it's not an easy journey going through everything but I was out of the NRL for two years.
"Standing here now I probably look back and I appreciate a bit of time away from the game, time to work on myself, my issues and appreciation for life in general as opposed to just being an NRL football player.
"With the help of some good people at this club and my family behind me I've definitely changed for the better."
Should he earn selection for the Dragons' round one clash with Melbourne, Packer will end 981 days in NRL purgatory.
He has not touched a drop of alcohol in more than two years and has vowed that will continue in his second NRL stint.
"I had a lot of extensive drug and alcohol counselling," Packer said. "Obviously, being away [in jail] for a year I didn't touch anything and it's been over two years now since I had a drop of alcohol or any other stuff. I feel happy that I can continue to live like this.
"It goes back to the promise I made my family. When you go through really hard times the people most close to you suffer as well.
"I owe them a lot and I don't even really see it as a sacrifice anymore, it's just how I live my life."