Penrith has pulled out of the race to sign disgraced forward Russell Packer.
News Limited newspapers reported yesterday that Packer has agreed to join the Panthers on a two year deal.
The Weekender understands that Packer, a former Warriors player who was to play for Newcastle this season before the assault charge, was desperate to link up with Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, who he worked with in New Zealand. Both Cleary and Panthers boss Phil Gould have visited Packer in jail multiple times in recent months.
Packer was previously in trouble with the NRL for urinating on the field during an NRL Match while playing for the Warriors against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
But in a statement issued this morning, the Panthers confirmed they are no longer interested in Packer.
“The Panthers would like to address reports the club has agreed to a contract with former Newcastle Knights player Russell Packer,” the club said.
“The reports are completely inaccurate. The Panthers formally withdrew from negotiations with Russell’s management three weeks ago. At this point, we are focusing on the retention of several of our talented young juniors.”
The Panthers are keen to add a forward to their squad for next season following the departure of Tim Grant to South Sydney.