New Zealand forward Russell Packer could be back behind bars at the end of the NRL season if he succeeds in being inducted into The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
The St.George-Illawarra prop earned his nomination for a drunken attack on a fellow footballer in the Sydney CBD some years ago, which the judge described as “deplorable and cowardly”.
He then served one year of an original two year sentence in prison and was, at one point, threatened with deportation from Australia.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. The first medal was awarded to Sydney Roosters and New Zealand representative Shaun Kenny-Dowall in 2015.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Todd Carney.
“I’m really happy to be nominated” said Packer.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good chance of being inducted, too, because judges seem to like me.”
Tributes to the Hall of Fame inductees are customarily guarded behind thick steel bars, to protect them from the exuberance and passion of the thousands of adoring fans who flock to the Hall every year.
Packer’s year in prison increases his chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame in October, where he could join the likes of fellow nominees and NRL disasters, John Hopoate and Julian O’Neill.
First published in July 2016.