The Kiwis must be desperate if they need Packer to be part of the pack... Link has been hidden. Please Register to view. Contented off the field, Russell Packer is still intent on repaying the faith. Packer has played every game this year for the Dragons, a return on investment for the club's patience while he was denied an NRL return last season. But there is still a finals tightrope to walk, let alone the prospect of earning a place in New Zealand's squad for the Four Nations in England in October and November. Media has been hidden. Please Register to view. HANNAH JOHNSTON/GETTY IMAGES Russell Packer made his name at the Warriors before crossing the ditch to join the Knights, though he'd never play a game for Newcastle. Packer has built a new life for himself and his family, after the turmoil and uncertainty when he was jailed for an assault in Sydney in 2013. Media has been hidden. Please Register to view. NICK MOIR/FAIRFAX MEDIA Russell Packer was jailed for a 2013 assault in Sydney, Australia. "After everything I've been through, I'm just happy playing NRL and trying to my best for the Dragons, week in, week out," he said. "If the opportunity came up, of course I wouldn't turn down the black [New Zealand] jersey, but it's not something driving me. "I'm at a different place in my life where I'm focused on my family and football. "If I did get selected [for New Zealand], I'd love to take the opportunity, but if I don't, I won't be losing sleep." After being released from jail, Packer's return to the NRL was held back, training by himself then playing with the Illawarra Cutters before the legal and rehabilitation considerations were finalised. Now his focus turns to leading from the front, following St George Illawarra's stumble in the 36-6 loss to Manly prior to the bye. As it stands, the Dragons are eighth on the ladder, almost certainly needing to win five of their remaining games to qualify, starting with Friday night's clash with the Gold Coast at Kogarah. Packer firmly believes the Dragons can make a late surge into September. "We feel as a group that if we play our best football, we can make a surge into the top eight," Packer said. "But we can only do that by winning games." While Packer is unconcerned about higher honours, another former Kiwi international and teammate Benji Marshall backs the prop to lead their finals charge. Marshall labelled Packer "one of the standouts" of St George Illawarra's season. But it's Packer's professional attitude which has made Marshall a believer. "His form has been good enough," Marshall said. "He's been one of the standouts of the year for us. "I've known Russell for a while, he's so professional now in the way he trains and he's one of the guys who leads the way by his actions. "I think think that in itself justifies why he wouldn't be out of place [playing for New Zealand again]." Packer offered an insight into the soul-searching the players did during the bye week, after their capitulation to Manly. "It's one of those performances that makes everyone scratch their heads," he said. "In saying that, the only way you can answer those kind of doubts is to get back out there and perform."