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Prop Russell Packer is leaving the Vodafone Warriors after a mutual agreement to release him from his contract.

While he wasnt off contract until the end of the 2014 NRL season, Vodafone Warriors general manager football operations Dean Bell said the Foxton-raised 23-year-old had an opportunity to continue his career in Australia.

Late last season Packer became the 21st player in the Vodafone Warriors history to make 100 NRL appearances for the club but his 2013 campaign was blighted by injuries which limited him to just nine games.

He was a foundation Vodafone Junior Warrior in the National Youth Competitions inaugural season in 2008 and also went on to make his NRL debut early that year.

While he had injury issues this year, Russell has given us good service in his six seasons after coming to the club as a young player with potential, said Bell.

We appreciate what he achieved with the Vodafone Warriors and wish him all the best as he looks to make a new start in the NRL.

The 2008 season was into only its eighth round when Packer was promoted to make his NRL debut as an 18-year-old against Canberra, becoming Vodafone Warrior No 141 in the first of five NRL games that year.

The following season he played 20 times for the NRL side and proved to be one of the clubs more durable players in reaching the 100-mark at the end of what was only his fourth full first-grade campaign.

His form in 2011 earned him his Kiwi Test debut against Australia in Newcastle plus another appearance against England in the following Four Nations campaign in the United Kingdom.

Bell said Packers departure would open the way for other props to step up. He pointed out the Vodafone Warriors had other front row options in Suaia Matagi, Charlie Gubb, Sione Lousi and Sam Lousi as well as Vodafone Junior Warriors prop Albert Vete, who has recently been signed on a fulltime NRL contract for 2014.
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