Leapai’s ready to help out Packer

HAVING served time in prison, heavyweight boxing champion Alex Leapai believes his own life battles could help him mentor rugby league bad boy Russell Packer.

The New Zealander is eyeing a successful playing comeback once his jail term finishes in January.

Master coach Wayne Bennett is working behind the scenes with Brisbane's board to clear the way for Packer to play for the Broncos next season, provided the NRL agrees to re-register his contract.

"I'm pretty sure someone like Wayne Bennett would guide him the right way," Leapai told APN when asked about the road ahead for the imprisoned footballer.

"I got a second chance. People can change, but you have to make the sacrifices," he added.

"I'd love to help him, talk to him and help him focus on the dream, the dream of becoming the player everybody talked about.

"I hope he goes to the Broncos, because right now they need a player who is devastating, who has an aggressive attitude and who can control it."

Packer, 24, made his NRL debut as an 18-year-old for the Warriors.

He is eligible for early release from Lithgow jail on January 5 after originally being sentenced to two years in prison in January this year for a vicious assault.

He was contracted to Newcastle under Bennett at the time.

Leapai fought Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko for a world title in July, nine years after being incarcerated in Woodford prison for assault.

He said he was prepared to train with Packer and the Broncos to help the Kiwi make the transition back into society using his own experiences.

Bennett told APN he was happy for Leapai to assist Packer if the big forward was cleared to come to the club next year.

At least three NRL clubs have Packer high on their recruiting lists because of his intimidation factor, and a likely bargain basement price tag - at least until he re-establishes himself as one of the game's toughest props.

Bennett faces some big decisions with former State of Origin prop Ben Hannant expected to be cut free, and a question mark over fellow forward Martin Kennedy.

The coach knows Packer would bring a feared edge to Brisbane's forward pack, something it enjoyed when it had the likes of Shane Webcke, Petero Civoniceva, Andrew Gee and Glenn Lazarus in his front row.



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