SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 13: Gareth Widdop of the Dragons looks on during the round 10 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Englishman Gareth Widdop is set to head home and play in the Super League before his career is over, and is on the cusp of signing a two-year deal with Warrington in the UK.

Widdop is contracted to St George Illawarra for the 2019 season and will play out the year for the Dragons, before moving to Warrington in 2020 to play alongside former NRL star Blake Austin.

According to The Mole, the announcement on Widdop’s future is imminent, although suggested Widdop’s NRL career may not be over.

The 29-year-old wants to play in front of his family, but could return to Australia following his stint with the Wolves.

Widdop’s departure will hurt the Dragons, although it’s one of the main reasons the club was able to afford Parramatta’s Corey Norman.

Widdop will link up with Austin in 2020, with the Wolves to boast one of the strongest halves pairings in the league.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Any halves pairing can look good when your forwards are playing well which was the case with St.George until State of Origin came along. The last 6 rounds of the competition were a disgrace with humiliating defeats to wooden spooners Paramatta 40-4 and Canterbury 38-0, who could forget those defeats. While McGregor is in charge the Dragons will never win a Premiership. If Management was smart they would have never let Jason Demetriou go after the Dragons ISP team won the Premiership in 2016. Demetriou should have replaced McGregor from the 2017 season.

    • The price of success is players being chosen in the rep teams. As tough as that can be. The alternative is no success in the competition & then almost no one being chosen from the club in rep games.

    • Long story short the Dragons peaked too soon. Whereas teams like the Roosters started slow and picked up momentum at the right time of the year.

      The old saying that premierships aren’t won in July is so true.

  2. Saints will have a better team than last season, there will be a vacant runner up vacancy in 2019. Perhaps St Illawarra May win the spot

      • Say what you like…
        Since 1992-1993, when Brisbane did it, no club has gone back to back as premiers.
        The NRL doesn’t like the idea of back to back winners. So it doesn’t happen. Let’s just leave it at that.
        So go put your house on the Roosters winning in 2019. If you dare? 😉

  3. The Dragons will undoubtedly miss Gareth Widdop when he leaves, but I don’t see this much differently than if he was retiring. At least club officials acted quickly to find a replacement. Whether or not Corey Norman will be a long term replacement remains to be seen, as there is a young guy named Jai Field waiting for his opportunity in first grade, and if the club doesn’t manage his development properly he will leave.

    There has been some media speculation that Mary will play Widdop at fullback and Norman at number 6 next season. I reckon that would be would dumb, because Widdop is much more effective & valuable to the team when he plays in Number 6, plus he is the captain. Whatever changes to be made should wait until the 2020 season. Next season could be anything for the Dragons, so why not use the talent they already have to its best advantage?

  4. I have given next year’s team some thought and I have decided that our best 13 would have Widdop at left centre. He is a left side specialist. He has a good running game and would appreciate the extra room to move at centre and he would be good at setting up his winger. I think he would be better than Lafai at centre. I doubt it will happen, but that is what I would experiment with. I am hoping that Ravalawa and Pearson can take the wing spots, Pereira would be next cab off the rank. This is the team I would be looking at to start round 1

    1 Dufty
    2 Ravalawa
    3 Lomax
    4 Widdop
    5 Pearson/Pereira
    6 Hunt
    7 Norman
    13 Debelin
    12 Frizell
    11 T Sims
    10 Vaughan
    9 McInnes
    8 Graham

    14 Leilua
    15 Lawrie
    16 K Sims
    17 Host/Aitken/Robson

    I would play Norman halfback. I think he is one of the best halfbacks in the game. He is a great game manager. He will go to the line and put runners through holes beautifully. Hunt would be 5/8. He could play his natural game there. He provides X factor in the halves and could play what he sees. I know that won’t be the team that Mary picks, but that is the side I would pick. I think Mary will select Widdop at fullback. I won’t be surprised to see him pick Aitken at centre and Lomax on the wing.

    • I don’t even know where to start on that comment. Norman is the best halfback in the game? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

      • I think you’re probably let Widdop go now, given you’ve signed Norman. If not, I can’t see Duffy playing FB, surely he’d be a winger, or shopped around.
        I rate Norman, but I would have Hunt as the organising half, and just let Norman play what he sees.
        The JDB situation COULD have a huge impact too.

    • I said Norman is “one” of the best halfbacks in the comp, I didn’t say he was the best. When he was playing halfback for Parra he was killing it. I doubt that Mary will play him halfback anyway, but if we do play him halfback and he can recapture that kind of form, he and Cronk will be the 2 best halfbacks in the comp next year. I expect Mary play Hunt in the 7 jersey and Norman in the 6 jersey, but Norman may still take on the dominate playmaker role. I like to have my halfback as the dominate playmaker. Hunt may be better suited to 5/8 too.

  5. Widdop at centre ?? Oh come on now Devout Saint. What were you drinking on Christmas Day ? St.George need a fullback that can catch a ball that is safe under pressure, and Widdop ticks all those boxes. Although nothing would surprise me with McGregor, remember last year he played Nightingale as a running forward ?? As far as I’m concerned the Dragons will not be lifting any silverware while McGregor is coach. I still think Lafai should be in the team, he has a good passing game and can set his winger up. I agree with you that Norman on his day with the right coach has a lot to offer a team.

    • Yeah, Widdop at centre. Someone else suggested the idea on another forum. I had not considered the idea before that, but after a bit of thought I thought Widdop at centre could be our best 13. I am a fan of Dufty and want to see him given the fullback spot to start the year off. I know he has to improve some facets of his game and I am hoping that he does. Norman has to start in the halves. I am not much of fan of Lafai and think Widdop playing centre would be a big improvement on Lafai. It is about getting our best 13 on the paddock. I doubt it will happen and expect Widdop to be playing fullback.

      • Just because Widdop is a good runner and can pass, doesn’t mean you should put him in centre why waste one of the best 5/8 in the centres?

        • I agree that Widdop is one of the better 5/8s in the game, but we now have to fit Norman in the team. Norman has to be in the halves. I have not seen Widdop play fullback or centre. I don’t believe that he would be a waste at centre for us. I think he would improve one of our weaknesses. I obviously want to see Dufty get first crack at fullback next year. I want to see him play another season to get a better gauge of if he is our permanent fullback. So I think that Widdop fits into our best 13 at centre. If we didn’t sign Norman, then I would have said that he fits us best at 5/8 next year. We probably won’t even get to see how he would go at centre anyway.

  6. I have no idea what Mary will do, but given how well WIddop played at FB for England Mary will have to put him there unless anyone thinks Norman can play FB. Dufty is too small and a weak defender and will be canon fodder o the wing for the big boppa islander boys and his lack of height would see him outjumped every time. I fear Dufty will yet again be shopped around. As for centres I think Lomax is too god for the wing and he’s a bettergoal kicker than WIddop so has to be in the team and at centre, Aitken and Lafai the other and maybe the one that loses out will move to the wing. Pereira has shown enough to keep his wing spot initially

    1. Widdop
    2. Lafai/Aitken/Ravalawa/Pearson
    3. Lomax
    4. Aitken/Lafai
    5. Peirera
    6. Norman/Hunt
    7. Hunt/Norman

    • I highly doubt that McGregor knows what he is going to do.

      I would suggest that he is already scripting up some good reasons/excuses why the team didn’t perform towards the end of 2019 when the contenders start to shine..

  7. I have seen Widdop play fullback for England earlier this year in the Denver Test, he was brillant and took every high bomb and ran the ball back very strongly, his defense close to the line was very strong, in fact he won the man of the match award that’s how good Widdop was at fullback, now seriously how does that compare to Dufty and how many dropped balls close to the line not even mentioning his paper thin defense near the goal line. No one doubts Dufty with his brillant attack, however premierships are won on defense at the end of the day.

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