Gareth Widdop today confirms his retirement from international Rugby League, having informed the England head coach Shaun Wane that he does not want to be considered for this autumn’s Rugby League World Cup.
Widdop has been a key member of the England squad in the last two World Cups, in 2013 and 2017, and scored a total of 171 points in his 28 appearances since making his debut as a 21-year-old against France in 2010 – from seven tries, 71 goals and a drop goal, and making him second only to Kevin Sinfield OBE on the all-time England point-scoring rankings.
He also made four Test appearances for Great Britain on the 2019 Lions tour, in addition to representing England at the World Nines earlier that year and in one non-capped fixture.
“Playing for my country has given me some of the best moments and memories of my career, so this is a big decision for me,” said Widdop, now 33, who was born in Halifax but played for more than a decade in the NRL with Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra Dragons after his family emigrated to Victoria when he was a teenager.
“I will never forget the experiences of playing in the last two World Cups, in England in 2013 and especially in Australia in 2017. Up to that point I’d played most of my international rugby at stand-off but Wayne Bennett switched me to full-back and I played some of the best rugby of my career.
“The semi final against Tonga in New Zealand was incredible – I still get goosebumps thinking about it. And then to play Australia in the final at Suncorp, and come so close – they are amazing memories.
“Playing for Great Britain in 2019 also meant a lot to me – to pull on that blue and red V, which I’d watched my heroes wearing as a kid growing up. I think the fact that we moved over to Australia when I was young made playing for England and Great Britain extra special for me, and I’ll always be grateful and proud for the opportunity.
“It goes right back to that first game against France in 2010 – when I came over from Australia as a youngster, and scored a try with my first touch.
“I’ve played with some great team-mates, guys like Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock Sam Burgess and James Graham, and also had the chance to play against Melbourne team-mates like Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith.
“But it’s the right time for me, and I feel it’s time to move over and make way for the next crop of young Internationals coming through. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support over my international career and especially my family who have borne the brunt of my absence whilst away on international duties. I would like to think that I have made my children – Brayden, Harper and Willow – very proud.
“I’ll be supporting Shaun and the England lads in what should be a fantastic competition.”
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