Dale Budge is a sports writer for the NZ Herald.

NRL: Dragons props out to continue big week

Russell Packer of the Dragons during the round four game against the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images
Russell Packer of the Dragons during the round four game against the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images

Russell Packer and Paul Vaughan are riding high after both inked significant new deals this week.
The in-form Dragons bookends will look to end a big week with another strong showing for their side against the Warriors at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton tonight.

Packer, who earned a test recall a fortnight ago, signed a four-year deal to join former Warriors mentor Ivan Cleary at the Wests Tigers from next season. Vaughan, who is being tipped for a debut NSW Origin jumper when the side for game one is named on Sunday night, extended his stay with the Dragons have joined the Sydney club from Canberra earlier this year.

Together the pair has set a platform that has given the Dragons a six-win, four-loss record while lying fifth on the ladder.

"I've got a good connection with Paul since he came to the club," Packer said. "He has been in outstanding form and I'm sure he is knocking on the door of Origin.

"We've got a good combo so we have to keep that going and put our team in the best position of winning."

Packer, who made his debut with the Warriors in 2008 and racked 110 caps before his career went off-track, was delighted to reunite with Cleary and secure his NRL future but admits he feels a debt of gratitude to the Dragons, who gave him a chance to resurrect his career after a prison stint for an ugly late night assault.

"It's good to secure a future for my family and I, but that's in 2018," Packer explained. "My sole focus is on this year with the Dragons.

"Under the circumstances that I came to the club, having that ability to rebuild my career as a rugby league player but also my life, I have the utmost respect for everybody involved at the Dragons," he added.

"There are too many people to thank for the almost three years I've been here."

The Dragons were rank outsiders at the beginning of the season but made a stunning start to the year before losing star rep players Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan to injury in the past three weeks, where they have had narrow losses to the Roosters, Storm and Sharks.

Packer is hoping the trip across the Tasman yields a vital two competition points.

"We've had a couple of tough losses in the past few weeks so I'm hoping we get back on track in New Zealand."

- NZ Herald

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