Dragons recruitment boss Ian Millward has described the retention of five-eighth Gareth Widdop and fullback (though he’d probably describe him as a centre) Josh Dugan a “priority”, but St George Illawarra might face heavy competition to keep the international pair.
According to Fox Sports, Widdop has been ear-marked by the Storm as the top option to replace Sydney-bound halfback Cooper Cronk next year. The Storm had previously been linked to Warriors five-eighth Kieran Foran, but as we pointed out last week, this never made a lot of sense, given Foran’s well-publicised desire to return to Sydney and be closer to his children.
Widdop, on the other hand, is a perfect fit. He’s previously played for the Storm, his wife’s family is from Melbourne, and his negotiations with the Dragons have stalled over his asking price.
News reporter Paul Kent described the Storm’s pursuit of Widdop as “looking more likely than anything at the moment”.
As for Dugan, the same report links him to the Roosters, in the event that they fail to sign Tigers fullback James Tedesco, who’s also been linked with the Bulldogs.
The Dragons have a host of other players off-contract at season’s end who will likely have to wait until Widdop and Dugan’s situations are resolved before being offered new contracts. These include Russell Packer, James Nightingale and Tim Lafai.