Gareth Widdop NRL return: Former Dragons star’s $1.2m salary sacrifice
Gareth Widdop NRL return: Former Dragons star’s $1.2m salary sacrifice

‘Bargain buy’: Which NRL clubs can afford Widdop

This is the $1.2m sacrifice to be close to his children.

Former NRL star Gareth Widdop could be this year's Christmas bargain after being forced to slash his asking price by a whopping two-thirds in the hope of securing an NRL club for next season.

The Daily Telegraph understands the former Melbourne and St George Illawarra champion is now on the open market for a ridiculously low $300,000 a season.

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Widdop, 31, has two years remaining on a rich contract with English Super League club, Warrington, worth a cool $800,000 to $900,000 a season.

That is a $600,000 a season reduction for the next two seasons.

While aware he could not obtain such a lucrative deal in Australia, Widdop initially hoped to earn around $550,000 to $600,000 a season in the NRL but interest has been minimal due to each club enduring salary cap pressure at this time of the year.

Widdop is now resigned to becoming rugby league's cut price king. He will be the bargain buy of the year.

He has been gently offered to the Sharks, Cowboys, Dragons and Roosters but all have knocked him back due to cap constraints.

The Roosters rumour has been rife for weeks but the club is claiming it doesn't have the necessary money for Widdop.

Gareth Widdop wants to return to Australia for family reasons. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne)
Gareth Widdop wants to return to Australia for family reasons. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne)

Widdop's new reduced price tag may now prompt clubs to move around their cap and make a play for the 208-game Storm, Dragons and Wolves veteran.

One agent said: "No club has any money, that's the problem. It's not Gareth's true value but Gareth would probably max-out at $300,000 now. His true value is around $600,000 to $700,000. It would be a miracle if any club had $500,000 to spare."

The former England and Great Britain international has returned to Sydney and is currently in hotel quarantine.

Widdop's wife, Carley, and his family, shifted back to Australia from England eight months ago and he now wants to return to be close to his three children.

He has been struggling living away from his children, only being able to see them through Skype.



Those close to Widdop say the situation is impacting on his wellbeing. He is desperate to be near his kids.

Should Widdop be unable to find an Australian club, he may have to return to Warrington for 2021 and 2022.

"Gareth is trying to keep fit in quarantine. I have organised him an exercise bike and dumb bells." said Widdop's manager, Paul Sutton, from SFX.

Warrington owner Simon Moran has been made aware of Widdop's personal desire to live back in Australia. As yet, Widdop hasn't formally sought a release from Warrington.

Another issue impacting Widdop is the NRL's failure to nail down their salary cap figure for next season.

The base salary cap for next season was set at $9.6 million but is certain to drop between five and 7.5 per cent due to COVID.

Former Bulldogs and Dragons centre Tim Lafai is also on the lookout for a new club.

Originally published as 'Bargain buy': Which NRL clubs can afford Widdop