Russell Packer named in Kiwis squad after six year hiatus: 'He was pretty delighted to get a call'




Russell Packer has overcome a six-year hiatus to return to New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League squad after he was named in David Kidwell's 20-man side to face the Kangaroo's in next Friday's ANZAC Test in Canberra.

Russel Packer. Vodafone Warriors v St George Dragons, NRL Rugby League. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday 1 May 2016. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /

Russel Packer goes into contact while playing against the Warriors.

Source: Photosport

Packer, who hasn't worn the black jersey since 2011, has found his blockbusting form this season after struggling to return to the game from a one-year prison sentence.

Kidwell says the selection was obvious.

"Russell's form speaks for itself," Kidwell said.

"He was pretty delighted to get a call from me, like anyone in life they have their ups and downs, and Russell’s been putting the hard yards in, and we just want him to do the same for the Kiwis."

Packer joins a strong Kiwis side headlined by the return of centerpieces Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Simon Mannering and Kieran Foran, after all three were unavailable for the international season last year with injuries and personal issues.

"First of all, all three of them bring a lot of Mana to our group and that’s hugely important," Kidwell said of the trio.

"Simon's experience in any squad is invaluable, he's been a leader in our side for a long time, so it's fantastic to have him fit and ready.

"Kieran's been playing some good footy this year and his combination with Shaun Johnson and Roger at the back is certainly benefiting from the more time they all spend together too."

Two debutants will join the side also with Melbourne Storms Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Brandon Smith both getting call ups from Kidwell for the game.

Parramatta Eels star Manu Ma'u was unavailable for selection due an injury.

The Kiwis face the Kangaroos on Friday night at GIO Stadium in Canberra at 10pm NZT.

NZ Kiwis Squad 2017 (* denotes international debut)

Nelson Asofa-Solomona* (Storm), Adam Blair (Broncos), Jesse Bromwich (Storm / Captain), Kenny Browmich (Storm), Kieran Foran (Warriors), David Fusitua (Warriors), Shaun Johnson (Warriors), Jordan Kahu (Broncos), Issac Luke (Warriors), Simon Mannering (Warriors), Kodi Nikorima (Broncos), Russell Packer (Dragons), Kevin Proctor (Titans), Jordan Rapana (Raiders), Brandon Smith* (Storm), Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys), Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Panthers), Dean Whare (Panthers)

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