By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
With his 995 day NRL exodus set to come to an end on Monday evening, St George Illawarra prop Russell Packer doesn't see his club debut as an end to his redemption tale.
After serving a year in jail following a 2013 assault it's been a long road back to this point for the 26-year-old who maintains he has a long way to go to achieving the goals he has in mind.
"I don't think one NRL game is cause for redemption for anybody I daresay, but it is part of the process I guess and that process has been a long one. It's all a part of the journey and I'm excited to get out there and represent the club," Packer said.
"It's a club that's given my family and me a lot of support and it'll be good to repay them not only in this first game but as many times as I can over the season.
"I hope to be living the right way and the same way I'm living now, I don't look at league the same way anymore.
"You can never control anything in rugby league with injuries. In terms of things I can control – how I live, how I behave – those are things that I want to commit to and I guess that's the big picture for me."
After starring in the Red V's huge 46-10 trial victory over the Warriors, Packer discussed the massive physical changes he has undertaken since his last NRL game back in Round 14, 2013.
"Physically I'm in good shape to get out there and do a job, and if you can't be excited about making your debut for the club then there's something wrong with you," he said.
"I'm at such a different place mentally compared to when I last played NRL and definitely physically too. I was overweight and out of shape when I last played for the Warriors.
"I'm in a really good place and I'm in the best shape that I've been in for a long time. Hopefully the hard work pays off when I start playing which I'm pretty sure it will.
"It has been a long preparation and it's all come to this. I'm ready to play and get out on the field and let my actions do the talking."