Gareth Widdop is expected to leave the NRL at the end of the 2019 season. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
Gareth Widdop is expected to leave the NRL at the end of the 2019 season. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Widdop expected to stir bidding war

A TUG of war over St George Illawarra playmaker Gareth Widdop is set to begin in the UK Super League despite the England international committing to the 2019 NRL season.

The cashed up Huddersfield Giants are believed to still be interested in Widdop signing for 2020 despite speculation building that Super League rivals Warrington Wolves are set to announce a two-year deal for the Dragons X-factor.

Newly re-signed Wolves coach and ex-Dragons mentor Steve Price is believed to be the major bargaining chip for the Wolves in their bid to lure Widdop to the UK club in 2020.

But the Giants - supported by millionaire owner Ken Davy - are still backing themselves in a bidding war over Widdop's signature.

Huddersfield coach Simon Woolford last week sounded the Giants' intentions by declaring: "We can pay him what he is worth... We will be making a move at the appropriate time."

Widdop last month moved quickly to shut down speculation he had asked for a 2019 release but made no guarantees he would see out the other two years of this Dragons contract.

Gareth Widdop has starred for the Dragons in recent seasons.
Gareth Widdop has starred for the Dragons in recent seasons.

The 29-year-old has made no secret of his desire to return to England after eight NRL seasons.

The Wolves are still considered front-runners for securing a 2020 deal for Widdop after re-signing Price for another two seasons.

Price, who was axed by the Dragons in 2014, left his position of Cronulla assistant to take charge of the Wolves from the start of the 2018 season.

He led the club to the Challenge Cup final and Super League grand final, beaten by Catalans Dragons and Wigan respectively.

If Warrington are successful, Widdop would form a formidable Wolves halves partnership with ex-Canberra star Blake Austin.

Former Raiders playmaker Austin begins his Wolves stint in 2019 but is already the bookies' favourite to claim next year's Man of Steel award - Super League's equivalent of the Dally M Medal.