Gareth Widdop of the Dragons reacts during the Round 24 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Wests Tigers at the SCG in Sydney, Sunday, September 1, 2019. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Gareth Widdop of the Dragons reacts during the Round 24 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Wests Tigers at the SCG in Sydney, Sunday, September 1, 2019. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Star’s hopes of NRL comeback all but gone

Gareth Widdop's mooted NRL comeback appears doomed after the England international returned to the COVID-ravaged UK following a Christmas holiday in Australia.

Widdop has not been able to secure a contract with an NRL club for the upcoming season, almost certainly killing his hopes of returning to the competition in 2021.

While Widdop had interest from several NRL clubs, including the Sydney Roosters, he was not able to find an accommodating suitor.

Gareth Widdop will report for pre-season at Warrington over the next few days.
Gareth Widdop will report for pre-season at Warrington over the next few days.

The 2012 NRL premiership-winner with Melbourne spent two weeks in hotel quarantine in Sydney late last year after flying into Australia from England.

He then had a short holiday with his wife and children, who left the UK suddenly last year to return to Australia.

Widdop, 31, has since returned to England and is expected to front for pre-season training with Super League club Warrington in the coming days.

Gareth Widdop with wife Carly.
Gareth Widdop with wife Carly.

Widdop left St George-Illawarra at the end of the 2019 NRL season to take up a lucrative three-year deal with Warrington.

But with his family returning to Australia, Widdop was keen to sever ties with the Super League club and come back to the NRL for 2021.

He even slashed his asking price to around $300,000-a-season, but was unable to attract a buyer given most clubs have already finalised their salary caps for 2021.

Gareth Widdop with his kids after his final game for the Dragons in 2019.
Gareth Widdop with his kids after his final game for the Dragons in 2019.

The Roosters' interest was so genuine that club supremo Nick Politis was involved in the discussions to bring Widdop to Sydney.

The Roosters have axed 2020 halfback Kyle Flanagan and could do with an experienced halfback to help emerging talent Sam Walker.

But unless they have a dramatic roster change it appears unlikely Widdop will be playing for the tricolours this year.

Widdop will link up with former Storm teammate Greg Inglis, who is Warrington's star recruit for the 2021 Super League season.

Originally published as Star's hopes of NRL comeback all but gone


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