Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop.

Gareth Widdop says he has not and will not be asking for a release from his St George Illawarra contract for next season but his future at the club beyond 2019 is not so certain.

Widdop appears set to leave the Dragons at the end of next season for the chance at a "fairytale" end to his career in England.

The playmaker addressed the media on Thursday morning at WIN Stadium and reiterated that he was committed to the club next year.

"At some point in my career I'd like to go back to England at some point. When that will be, I'm not too sure," he said.

"I'm here for this year, I'm committed to the Dragons. I have a contract till 2021, so that's where we're at at the moment, there's nothing else to speculate on."

 
 
 
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And yet the Englishman's future beyond next season remains in doubt, with Widdop putting out a statement on Wednesday night specifying that he would be at the club in 2019 and that he had an ambition to play in the Super League in the future.

"I want to put to bed that I haven't asked a release for 2019. To all the members, fans and the little kids out there, I understand my importance to this team and my position as the captain and leader of this club. I will be here in 2019 and can't wait for the season to start," Widdop said.

"There's no secret I have aspirations of going over to the UK and playing. It's something I've always wanted to do. I have a good relationship with the club and so when the time is right we'll work together."

The Dragons say they have been in discussions with Widdop regarding his playing future "for a number of weeks".

Dragons officials held a meeting with Widdop on Wednesday to discuss his future at the club. The 29-year-old also expressed an understanding of the club's situation and a strong desire to work with the Dragons surrounding this matter.

There has been no decision by either party regarding any timeframes surrounding a potential release in 2020 or 2021.

"The club has been in discussions with Gareth for a number of weeks concerning his future at the Dragons," Director of pathways and list management Ian Millward said.

"We understand his circumstances and he understands ours, and this is something we plan on working through together."

The England playmaker, who was on a scholarship with Halifax before moving to Melbourne with his family as a teenager, has told St George Illawarra officials of his passion to play in Super League while still at the peak of his game.

Widdop, who is recovering from shoulder surgery that sidelined him from the recent Test series defeat of New Zealand, turns 30 in March.

He also has strong family ties in England.

Almost all Super League clubs would be keen on Widdop's services if he was available but it is unlikely any have the money to accommodate the signing of a player of his standing for next season.

Should Widdop decide to return to England, Wigan, Warrington, Leeds, Huddersfield and Hull FC appear to be the most likely options for his services. 

Widdop has played 185 NRL matches for the Dragons and Storm but has repeatedly stated since making his debut with Melbourne in 2010 that he wanted to play in Super League at some stage during his career.

In an interview while in England for the 2015 Test series against the Kiwis, Widdop said it would be a "fairytale to end my career here".

Signings Tracker: Confirmed 2019 squads & contracts