Russell Packer: Mitchell Pearce deserves a second chance

Russell Packer. Photo / Getty
Russell Packer. Photo / Getty

It took Russell Packer two years of soul searching, a 12-month prison sentence which included four weeks in solitary confinement and having his NRL career pulled from under him to appreciate what he had.

And he says time away from rugby league could be just what besieged Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce needs in his life right now.

Packer is on his own road to redemption after being convicted of a vicious alcohol-fuelled assault in Martin Place in 2013.

Sacked by Newcastle and being taken away from his young family was a life-altering experience and Packer said it forced him to face up to the man he was and the one he wanted to be.

The 119kg St George Illawarra enforcer will make his return to the NRL field in round one next month and has been named for his side's first trial against Queensland Cup side Wynnum-Manly this weekend.

As Packer is coming out the other side of the toughest time in his life, Pearce is just beginning his.

After being suspended by the Roosters for the infamous Australia Day video, the NSW Origin playmaker has checked himself into an overseas rehabilitation clinic to treat his alcohol problems.

Some have suggested that Pearce, who debuted as a 17-year-old and has known pressure and fame most of his life, could benefit from an extended period out of rugby league.

While Packer is careful not to judge Pearce, he said based on his own experience, sometimes taking a step back can lend you some perspective.

"Good people can make bad decisions and that may be the case there," Packer said on Monday.

"(Pearce) has problems and we all have problems in our life and it takes a strong person to admit them, put your hand up and go away and try and sort some of that stuff out.

"I wish him all the best, I can only go on what I went through and it's not an easy journey and I was out of the NRL for two years.

"Standing here now, I appreciated a bit of time away from the game, time to work on myself and my issues, it gave me an appreciation of life in general instead of just being an NRL football player."

The Roosters and the NRL Integrity Unit are investigating Pearce's behaviour at an Australia Day party in which he was filmed simulating sex with a dog, attempting to force himself on a woman and urinating on a couch.

His career hangs in the balance, with the Roosters weighing up whether to sack him, but Packer said he was deserving of a second chance.

"I guess I'm a living example of when you make mistakes, if you do the right thing then someone's willing to give you a second chance," Packer said.

"I hope that's the case for him."


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