Warrington Wolves close in on signing of Catalans Dragons star

WARRINGTON WOLVES are reportedly closing in on Catalans’ Australian star Josh Drinkwater as coach Daryl Powell seeks a Gareth Widdop replacement and the French club try to ease salary-cap pressure.

Widdop, who partnered George Williams at halfback this year, has switched to Castleford.

While fullback Stefan Ratchford can play in the halves, the Wolves’ only other specialists are the relatively inexperienced Riley Dean, 21, and 18-year-old Leon Hayes, who made his senior debut this year.

Williams, who in the absence of rested fullback Sam Tomkins, skippered England in their final World Cup group game against Greece on Saturday, was a high-profile Warrington signing after leaving Canberra Raiders midway through 2021.

The former Wigan player, who had been in the NRL for 18 months but became unsettled, has a Wolves deal which runs until 2024.

Drinkwater, 30, has a year to run on his contract at Catalans, where he is in his second spell, having played for Hull KR in 2019.

The Sydneysider came through the Manly Sea Eagles development system before making his NRL bow in 2013 after a move to St George Illawarra Dragons.

Having made four appearances in total, he spent the 2014 season at London Broncos before a return Down Under with Wests Tigers.

When that failed to work out, he was released halfway through his contract to join Leigh, whom he helped win promotion from the Championship in 2016.

He remained for the following Super League season, and after Leigh’s relegation, had a short spell at New South Wales Cup side Western Suburbs Magpies before beginning his first spell at Catalans in April 2018.

He was a Challenge Cup winner – against Warrington – with the French side that year and featured in their Grand Final defeat by St Helens in 2021.

Warrington have an overseas quota spot available as well as salary-cap wriggle room after second rower Oliver Holmes’ switch to Leigh.