Paul Vaughan extends contract with St George Illawarra Dragons as Russell Packer departs for Wests Tigers

Staying put: Dragons prop Paul Vaughan has extended his contract at the club. Picture: John Veage

Staying put: Dragons prop Paul Vaughan has extended his contract at the club. Picture: John Veage

St George Illawarra have lost one prop but ensured the future of another with the Dragons announcing Paul Vaughan has signed a two-year contract extension.

Vaughan joined the club from Canberra on a three-year deal starting this season but has added a further two years, with the 26-year-old now to wear the red v until 2021.

The news comes after the Wests Tigers announced they had lured Vaughan’s front row partner Russell Packer to their club on a four-year deal.

Vaughan has been outstanding in his first 10 rounds as a Dragon, bolting into NSW State of Origin calculations with a number of strong performances.

“At the start of the season I wanted to start afresh and prove myself all over again. That was one of the biggest things I needed to do,” he said.

"I think I'm halfway to doing that. I just need to keep playing consistent football.

"I've always said I wanted to stay here for as long as I can so with this deal I won't be off-contract again until I'm in my 30s."

St George Illawarra’s director of rugby league pathways Ian Millward said Vaughan was one player the club would look to build their future around.

"We've identified him as a future leader and we've also been impressed by the way he's integrated and interacted with the younger forwards," Millward said.

"Paul has been a tremendous acquisition to the Dragons. By re-signing him, it was a good opportunity to get stability in our forward pack and have that platform there for our halves."

Millward said the Dragons chose not to match the Tigers’ offer for Packer because of the younger players coming through their systems.

Former Australian Schoolboys representatives Hame Sele (Kingsgrove Colts junior), Reece Robson (De La Salle junior) and Luciano Leilua (Hurstville United junior) as well as former Junior Kangaroo Jacob Host (Renown United junior) have all either re-signed with the club recently or have contracts beyond this season.

Gone: Dragons prop Russell Packer has left the club for the Wests Tigers. Picture: Chris Lane

Gone: Dragons prop Russell Packer has left the club for the Wests Tigers. Picture: Chris Lane

The Dragons helped Packer resurrect his career after spending a year in jail in 2014 after being convicted in a Sydney court of assaulting a 22-year-old man, fracturing his eye socket.

New Tigers coach Ivan Cleary, who coached the 27-year-old at the New Zealand Warriors, said he expected Packer to take on a leadership role at the club.

"Russell has been one of the standout front-rowers in the NRL this season,” Cleary said.

“He’s a no-nonsense front rower, he really knows what his job is and he delivers and I think he’s only going to get better.

“I think he’s going to have a very strong leadership role here. He’s got a great story, a story of hard knocks and coming out the other side, and that will resonate with lots of the boys here.

“He’s very keen to help us regrow what we have here at Wests Tigers and they’re the sort of guys we want on board.”

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