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No new Dragons role for Widdop

Posted on 30/11 by Joe Gann

No new Dragons role for Widdop
Despite his superb recent form, Gareth Widdop is unlikely to start the new NRL season at fullback

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The scintillating form of Gareth Widdop in this year’s World Cup has led many to believe that his recent switch to fullback may become a permanent move when he returns to club duty next season. Since answering the call for his country following the injury to regular full-back Jonny Lomax, the St George man has been exemplary; earning three consecutive man of the match awards and helping his side book a place in the final in the process.

The positional move is not an entirely unfamiliar one for the Dragons’ five-eighth though, it was his favoured role as a junior. However, since making his debut in the Australian game, he has played just 6 of his 163 NRL games in the number one jersey.

Despite his recent sublime performances, his club manager Paul McGregor is unlikely to make the change a permanent one at club level. “If there’s a necessity to play Gareth at fullback and we thought he’d benefit the team there, that’s a discussion to have down the track. But right now, we feel he’s our No.6. He’s also coming off a third in the Dally Ms playing at five-eighths” said the Dragons boss.

Although seemingly slamming the door on the rumour, there appears to be at least a possibility that Widdop may spend some time in the role, particularly as Josh Dugan’s departure to the Sharks has left the jersey without an established custodian. In an ideal world, youngster Matt Dufty will continue his rapid progression and make the position his own this year, leaving Widdop to return to his natural habitat in the halves.

An added incentive to restoring Widdop to his playmaking role is the prospect of pairing the talismanic Englishman together with big money arrival Ben Hunt. The Dragons have a tantalising new halves combination that may take the competition by storm next year. It’s entirely understandable that McGregor is keen to unite the pair, but it is reassuring that if required, they have a fantastically versatile footballer capable of adapting to a crucial new role.

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