Gareth Widdop not concerned by England omission

Gareth Widdop is relaxed about his omission from England’s list of prospective Ashes candidates.

Warrington’s marquee man was the notable absentee from a 31-man list of players that will meet with new head coach Shaun Wane later this month.

Widdop, 30, has been a mainstay in the England setup for the best part of a decade, making his exclusion even more eye-catching.

However, despite not being invited to the meeting at Old Trafford on March 23rd, Widdop remains confident about being selected when England take on Australia later this year after a discussion with Wane last week.

“I’m fine about it,” he said.

“I spoke to Shaun. It’s early on in the season and the team picks itself at the end of the year. If I’m playing well then I’ll be there. I’ve been in the England setup for nine or ten years, I’ve done a lot and given a lot.

“I don’t need to delve into our conversations too much, but he’s an honest bloke and I like honesty. Like I said, the tournament is miles away and if I go out there and play well hopefully I’ll be there at the end of the year.”

Wane said on Rugby League Back Chat last week that the door was open for Widdop to earn selection, but that his performances would need to be better.

“He’s a great player and did a great job for St George in the NRL,” Wane said.

“I like how he plays, but he would know his form isn’t hitting the right note at the minute and he needs to play better.”

Widdop made his third appearance of the season as Warrington beat Castleford on Friday, with the halfback admitting he is still adapting to his new surroundings.

“Look, I think this is my third game back with a new club and a new style of football.

“I’m slowly building into the games and finding the pace of the game. No doubt, I want to improve, as an athlete you always want that. I’ll keep working hard on my game.

“I didn’t know what to expect really. It is a lot different to the past. Conditions are a big factor, the fields and the style of play, there’s more ball movement over here compared to the NRL.

“I’ve played three games and I’m slowly finding my feet. I need more back-to-back games, over the last year and a half I’ve not played too much so I want to get through the season injury-free and improve each and every week. That’s my main focus.”