Further speculation over Gareth Widdop’s future at Warrington comes as absolutely no surprise to me.
I’m not having a go at the player, because he had a stellar career in the NRL with Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra Dragons.
It was great to see a lad from Halifax go Down Under and more than hold his own in that kind of company.
But his high-profile return to England on a contract that runs until 2022 just hasn’t worked out, and while the situation created by coronavirus hasn’t helped, I think questions need to be asked about Warrington’s decision to recruit him in the first place.
It’s all about balance.
They already had a top player in Blake Austin, and his partnership with Dec Patton worked well.
Austin was the orchestrator, Patton provided the support, and the two halves worked in harmony.
But since his fellow halfback Widdop arrived, Austin hasn’t looked nearly as happy, and he hasn’t been as effective.
In my book, both Widdop and Austin want to be the main man, and by definition you can’t have two of those.
It’s like an orchestra, there can only be one conductor.
Warrington have two marquee halfbacks, but both want to be the conductor, and neither of them are operating in top gear because of the presence of the other.
I know Widdop keeps playing down the speculation, and I noticed that last week he insisted: “I’m at Warrington Wolves, I’m a Wire player, and that’s all there is to it.”
He also knocked back suggestions of a wish to return to Australia for family reasons, but when rumours refuse to go away, that in itself becomes a problem.
Having Widdop in primrose and blue certainly won’t have come cheap, and perhaps it’s time for Warrington to cut their losses and admit things just haven’t worked out and for the player to return Down Under.
While we’re on the subject of the Wolves and their squad for next season, let’s not forget that Greg Inglis is due to check in at the Halliwell Jones.
By the time the 2021 campaign is likely to start, he will be a 34-year-old who won’t have played for almost two years.
By the time his NRL career ended, he had been troubled by both knee and shoulder injuries.
Great though he was for Melbourne, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Queensland and Australia, time takes its toll.
Will he be in the right condition to make a meaningful contribution to the Warrington cause and provide value for money?
As with Gareth Widdop, the club will be splashing the cash on Greg Inglis, but could it be put to better use?
I’ve already mentioned balance, and that also applies to the team as a whole, not just the halves.
It’s about finding the right blend, of youth and experience, homegrown and signed men, flair players and workhorses.
You can buy players, but you can’t necessarily buy a happy dressing room, team spirit or a successful side.
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.