Widdop fails to put speculation to bed over his NRL future
St George Illawarra skipper Gareth Widdop has failed to put speculation about his future to bed, falling short of guaranteeing he will see out his NRL contract.
Widdop is signed with the Dragons until the end of 2021 but was on Wednesday forced to deny he was seeking an immediate release to finish his career in the Super League.
After stating he would remain in Wollongong for 2019, he was careful with his words when asked whether he was committed for the next three seasons.
When pushed on whether he would see out the remainder of his deal, Widdop said: "I'm here for this year. I'm committed to the Dragons, I'm contracted until 2021.
"That's where I'm at at the moment, there's nothing else to speculate on, nothing else to talk about."
Widdop's words mirror those of Ivan Cleary, who this year consistently ducked questions about a return to Penrith before eventually being granted a release to the Panthers for 2019.
Speculation that the 29-year-old will seek a release to England looks set to linger.
Halifax-raised Widdop has consistently stated his desire to play in England, having moved to Australia as a 16-year-old.
Dragons recruitment manager Ian Millward on Wednesday said Widdop had been in discussions with the club for a number of weeks.
But Widdop says he has not put a timeline on his return home. "There was a bit of speculation in the media that I had asked for an immediate release which was totally not the case," Widdop said.
"I'm committed to the Dragons. I'm here in pre-season and ready for the season to start.
"I've spoken about it a number of times, I would like to go back to England at some point. When that will be, I'm not too sure."
Widdop said he had not had in-depth discussions with the Dragons about a potential exit plan.
He is in pre-season training and is aiming to return in round one after having his finals campaign cut short because of a shoulder injury.