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Russell Packer sacked by Newcastle Knights

Date
Russell Packer arrives at Downing Centre Courts in Sydney last week.

Russell Packer arrives at Downing Centre Courts in Sydney last week. Photo: Nick Moir

The Newcastle Knights have sacked Russell Packer after the NRL player was sentenced to two years' jail for a drunken assault.

The club issued a statement on Monday saying Packer had been formally advised his contract had been terminated, effective immediately.

The former Warriors forward was last week handed a two-year jail sentence, which he is appealing, after being found guilty of assaulting a man in Sydney last November.

Packer was signed from the New Zealand Warriors did not play for the Newcastle Knights.

Packer was signed from the New Zealand Warriors did not play for the Newcastle Knights. Photo: Simone de Peak

"There was never any doubt we would terminate Russell's employment following Monday's sentence however we had a process," Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said.

"As we stated from the beginning and when we stood Russell down, first and foremost it was a legal process.

"At our first opportunity to meet with Russell, we advised him in person of our decision."

According to the statement the Knights "will continue its duty of care to ensure the welfare of Russell's partner and two young children, who relocated to Newcastle last month".

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett said it was a difficult time for all parties involved.

"As a club, we knew this was a no-win situation and we accepted that," said Bennett.

"We had a responsibility to handle this situation in a manner mindful of his young family, the club, its sponsors, members and the community as a whole.

"Until Sunday, no person including family members, had been allowed access to Russell.

"To reiterate, Russell acted independently on the night of the incident and was stood down as soon as the facts were established.

"We are all extremely disappointed and have never condoned Russell's actions, however he still had a right to be informed of our decision first.

"Sponsors, corporate partners, members and fans who have supported the administration throughout this process knew we were doing what was right, despite criticism."

The NRL had earlier refused to register Packer's three-year contract with the Knights after the Integrity Unit investigated the incident.

A petition calling on Packer to be sacked had gained more than 10,000 signatures by Monday morning.

Knights supporter Terry Powick, whose best friend Scott Snodgrass was killed by a "coward's punch" in Coffs Harbour last year, said he launched the petition to take a stand against alcohol-fuelled violence.

"Scott was just 34 years old and had four young kids," Mr Powick said. "It seems every day we pick up a newspaper or watch the news and we hear about another case of alcohol-fuelled violence that has seriously injured or taken someone's life."

“The Knights are my team. I love following them every season -- but hearing Wayne Bennett defending Packer made me ashamed to be a fan."

AAP with Rachel Olding

45 comments so far

  • I would have thought he should have been sacked earlier than today, I understand they had a process but a week is too long.. The NRL also should have come out to de-register the guy as well..

    Commenter
    Johnny
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    January 13, 2014, 11:23AM
    • It's taken this long because getting access to a new prisoner in the system is a rather long process and was the only way to serve him his notice. In this case, txt'ing him was not an option.

      Commenter
      The Word
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      January 13, 2014, 2:27PM
    • I am still waiting to hear what if any support the Newcastle Knights offered his victim and his family.

      Commenter
      Victim's voice
      Date and time
      January 13, 2014, 3:43PM
    • Since when is an employer responsible for the actions of their employee outside of work?

      Commenter
      vitas
      Date and time
      January 13, 2014, 9:47PM
    • Whatever. That's like saying Dr Frankenstein isn't responsible for the actions of his monster.

      Commenter
      Barko
      Date and time
      January 13, 2014, 10:46PM
    • Yes Barko, players are completely creations of the clubs with no free will of their own...

      Commenter
      Seano
      Date and time
      January 13, 2014, 11:45PM
    • Johnny, The NRL couldn't de-register him, as it states in the article they refused to register him in the first place.

      Commenter
      Registration
      Date and time
      January 14, 2014, 8:15AM
    • @Victim, I cannot answer that question, however I can tell you that Packer was contracted to the NZ Warriors until the end of Oct 2013. As the assault occurred in November 2013 he has never played a game of football for Newcastle nor had his contract with the club registered. He was suspended by the club and has now been sacked. I'm not sure what more you would like the Knights to do given that he has only been employed by them for approx 8 weeks. If the same situation occurred out in the real world, would you hold the CBA responsible for the actions of an employee who was still within their probation period?

      In this case it might be better to direct your anger at the player.

      Commenter
      @Victim
      Date and time
      January 14, 2014, 9:08AM
  • Good!

    Now let's make sure he spends real time in prison. People like this should be off the streets and our communities will be safer.

    Commenter
    Reality Check
    Date and time
    January 13, 2014, 11:24AM
    • He should not only be sacked but also banned from playing any form of professional sport for the next 10 years. If sports people who take drugs face long term and even lifetime bans, then the same penalties should apply to people convicted of serious crimes such as this.

      Commenter
      A Jaxom
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      January 13, 2014, 11:24AM

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