The expected return of Gareth Widdop to Australia has hit a major roadblock. Or rather, has been stopped dead in its tracks.

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)

The news comes as a big setback for the Canberra Raiders, who were thought to be chasing the playmaker. Widdop had been mooted to return to the NRL, but has now done a complete 180 and opted to stay in England.

Reports recently surfaced that the 32-year-old had been eyeing off a return to Australia as his family is based here, following a stint with the Warrington Wolves since leaving the NRL in 2019. However, The Australian’s Brent Read said on Triple M that Widdop is set to stay abroad.

“It looks like he’s now going to stay in England” Read told Triple M.

Related: Door open for Widdop return

“Canberra were the club that were moving for Gareth Widdop but they’ve basically been told [he] looks like he will stay in England now.

“It’s a bit of a backflip on Gareth’s behalf because he had been shopped around the NRL for a long time now – basically all season he's been shopped around the NRL and didn’t really get any bites.

“It was only the past few weeks he started to get any interest and Canberra was one of those clubs, but it sounds like now he’s decided to stay in England. So you can put a line through him among those playmakers that were on the open market.”

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)

It’s been reported that last month, Widdop’s former club St George Illawarra gave its blessing for him to return to the NRL with another club. He was released from his previous contract with the Dragons under the caveat that he would not return to the NRL to play for a rival.

See Also: Broncos lose patience with playmaker

It’s thought that the Raiders had been the front runners for Widdop’s signature following the loss of George Williams mid-season.

The Raiders look set to retain the services of hooker Josh Hodgson in a boost. They had originally hoped to retain Hodgson and secure Widdop but will have to settle for the trusty Hodgson alone.