Ex-Warrington Wolves man Gareth Widdop reveals how former Leeds Rhinos coach & chance event led to his rugby league career

Gareth Widdop made his name down under in the NRL with the Melbourne Storm initially prior to joining St George Illawarra Dragons.

However, it’s easy to forget that Widdop grew up in Yorkshire, in Halifax no less.

After a spell at Warrington Wolves from 2o20-22, Widdop is back in Yorkshire with Castleford Tigers in 2023.

Speaking on James Graham’s podcast the Bye Round, the halfback revealed how a chance event as his family prepared to leave Yorkshire for Australia was the key to his rugby league career as was an ex-Leeds Rhinos coach.

He said: “I grew up in Halifax at Kings Cross which was my junior club. We travelled a lot as a kid and mum and dad decided we wanted to move to Australia. The last two years before we went to Australia which was 2005 so I was just turning 16 and I’d just played some rugby union.

“We were originally supposed to move up to Brisbane but you get state nominated where you get put and at the time mum was a teacher and Victoria needed teachers and we just assumed that rugby league would be massive down there because of Melbourne Storm.

“We looked basically for the closest rugby league team around that area to chase the dream of playing professional rugby league but to be honest if we hadn’t moved to Melbourne I wouldn’t have had the career I’ve had.

“At the time it was Dean Lance who’d just left Leeds and there wasn’t many kids playing rugby league down there, it was all Australian rules.

“In 2008 the under 20s comp was starting and through mutual friends but he ended up inviting me down to train with the under 20s squad.

“I did a train and trial and kicked on from there. Did two years in the under 20s and in 2010 I moved into the first team and that’s where it all started really.”

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