Former NRL star Gareth Widdop has signed with English Championship club Halifax for the 2024 season, backflipping on his recent retirement call to return to his hometown club.

The West Yorkshire product had originally decided to hang up the boots in October, departing Castleford with mutual consent before announcing his time at the professional level was up.

Widdop's call saw the 34-year-old's decorated career across the NRL, Super League and international stage come to an end after 14 seasons.

However, the 28-time England representative has decided to return from his short retirement to sign with the Halifax Panthers for next season.

The club confirmed the addition of the stand-off and fullback hybrid, who expressed his delight in landing at his hometown club.

"It's pretty surreal, to be honest," Widdop said in a club statement.

"As a little boy growing up in Halifax, being able to live out a dream in Australia for 15/16 years, I never thought this day would come. I'm absolutely buzzing, I'm sure a lot of my family and friends are super proud and happy for that little boy back then growing up to pull on this jersey.

TOOWOOMBA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Gareth Widdop of the Dragons passes the ball during the round three NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Clive Berghofer Stadium on March 25, 2018 in Toowoomba, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

"I've been very fortunate in my career to do wonderful things, play in Australia for a number of years, represent my country so to finish off and pull on this jersey is great.”

"The club have given me an opportunity to come home and hopefully with my experience within the game, I can come here, play some good rugby league and help as much as I can.

"It was always something in the back of my mind to be able to finish off at Halifax, obviously growing up here, that's all I ever wanted to play for. I'm looking forward to next year now, I'm still fit and healthy and ready to go."

Widdop brings over 260 games of elite level experience to the Panthers, having started his career with the Melbourne Storm in 2010. He would move to NRL rivals St George Illawarra four years later, playing 125 games in the Red V.

Widdop eventually returned to England with the Warrington Wolves, and would soon depart the club for Castleford for the 2023 season.

He would play 21 games for Castleford this year, with the Tigers managing just six wins to finish 11th in the Super League.

Halifax amassed an eight-place finish this year to fall just outside the top half of the Championship.