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Gareth Widdop playing for England.

Gareth Widdop declared St George Illawarra's season a "disaster" but the England star can still end a long Australian stint in style at the Downer World Cup 9s.

After a decade in the NRL, the five-eighth will go home and join Warrington in the Super League on a three-year deal.

Unless the 30-year-old returns to the NRL in his career twilight or comes Down Under on international or World Club Challenge duty, the Nines will mark his final games on Australian soil.

"I probably haven't looked at it that way. It's been chaos the last couple of weeks and then straight into camp," Widdop told before the tournament at Bankwest Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

"I've been here for 10, 11 years now and it is a beautiful country. I hope to be back here to live at some point. I'm looking forward to my next adventure and I'll miss this weather, I know that.

"My wife and my kids are all Australian, so I plan to head overseas for a couple of years and come back here one day. When that'll be, I'm not sure."

Widdop was denied a perfect finish at the Dragons; he underwent shoulder surgery after a bad dislocation in round three and the club's finals chances were all but dashed once he returned.

Why you shouldn’t miss the World Cup 9s

However, the goal-kicking playmaker - who is St George Illawarra's second-highest all-time point-scorer - believes the side is stronger than when he arrived before the 2014 campaign.

"The club's come a long way since then. Certainly the last few years we improved a hell of a lot," he said.

"We planned to win trophies and we haven't managed to do that but I'd certainly like to think I've contributed a little bit in improving the club.

"Obviously this year was a disaster, I guess. Injuries, off-field [incidents] - all sorts of little things that you can never write in a fairytale ending. Sometimes that's just life, it throws curve balls.

"It was very hard to take and disappointing to finish on that note but I'd like to think I've given my everything for the last six years."

Aside from a premiership ring to match the one he claimed with Melbourne in 2012, another thing that eluded Widdop at the Dragons was experiencing the NRL Nines, which ran from 2014 to '17.

He's not exactly sure what to expect in the World Cup 9s but is honoured as ever to be representing England.

Why Bennett wants long-term future for Nines

"Usually I missed out [on the NRL Auckland Nines] because I came back late from pre-season and did a bit more training rather than playing," Widdop said.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's a bit of a different concept and obviously to do it for your country is a big occasion. It should be fun.

"We've obviously picked a good squad. A lot of players with a lot of skill and good running games. I'm just excited to be a part of the team again and get away with the boys.

"There's plenty of people in this competition who are dangerous, a lot of talent on show. It should be a good spectacle."


For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to

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