Warrington Wolves have today confirmed the long-speculated rumour of Gareth Widdop’s signature after announcing that the England international will join the club from St George Illawarra Dragons for the 2020 season and beyond.
The move is seen as something of a coup after The Wire completed the signing of one of the world’s best players with Halifax-born Widdop having won the NRL’s stand-off of the year award in 2017 while with Melbourne Storm. During his time with them, he won the Grand Final in 2012 as well as the World Club Challenge in 2013 before moving to St George for the 2014 season.
The 29-year-old has penned a three-year deal with the club and Warrington CEO Karl Fitzpatrick suggested the move was one of the most significant in the Super League era. “This is arguably the biggest signing in the club’s history and quite possibly in the history of Super League. Bringing in this world-class player is a major boost for the sport in this country. In 2020 Gareth will be a fantastic addition to an already formidable squad,” he told the media following the announcement.
Providing Blake Austin – who, along with Widdop, will be the Wolves’ marquee players – remains with the club for 2020, Warrington will have one of the very best half-back pairings in world rugby league – let alone Super League. Widdop has made over 200 NRL appearances with the Storm and the Dragons and it is believed that, while they have allowed him to leave despite being under contract, the Dragons were keen to keep him Down Under.
However, Widdop’s wish to play Super League before his retirement is set to be realised and it will likely be a privilege for rugby league fans on these shores to see him on a weekly basis. The man himself noted the Wolves’ ambition as one of the key reasons behind signing for the Halliwell Jones Stadium club. “I think Warrington, in terms of the club itself, has got a lot of history, is a great team and is run very well. I have a lot of mates in the team and it’s been a top club for a number of years,” he told the media. Widdop further added that his experience at the very top in both the NRL and internationally will stand him in good stead for his time in the UK: “I am hoping I can draw from my leadership and bring that to Warrington. It’s a good team with some great players in the squad already; playing in the halves it’s a key position and hopefully I can do my part for the team whatever that might be.”