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Dragons clear way for Widdop to join Raiders or Warriors

St George Illawarra have advised Gareth Widdop's manager they would not stand in the way of Canberra or the Warriors signing the former Dragons captain if he returns from England before the end of the season.

Widdop, who was last week added to England's World Cup train-on squad, was released by St George Illawarra at the end of the 2019 season to join Warrington but the Dragons retained an option on his services for the remaining two years of his contract if he returned to the NRL.

The playmaker's homesick family moved back to Wollongong last year and he has been desperately trying to find an NRL club without success.

However, the departure of English halfback George Williams from Canberra and season-ending injury to Warriors playmaker Chanel Harris-Tavita may have opened the door for Widdop to return and both clubs have expressed interest in his services.

Warrington have been linked with Williams and it is believed they are willing to release Widdop if he had an NRL club to play for.

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If Widdop was to receive an offer from Canberra or the Warriors, the Dragons have given his manager an assurance that they would not stand in his way of securing a deal to return to the NRL.

The Raiders are also monitoring the form of out-of-favour St George Illawarra fullback Matt Dufty, who toured the club's facilities and met with coach Ricky Stuart last Thursday.

However, the club is yet to decide whether to make an offer to Dufty, who along with Dragons five-eighth Corey Norman has been told that he will not be offered a new deal for next season.

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It is unlikely that the Raiders would be interested in Norman or Cronulla playmaker Shaun Johnson if they don't sign Widdop.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are waiting to hear back from Canterbury if they will release former New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak as a replacement for Ken Maumalo, who has joined Wests Tigers.

Watene-Zelezniak is contracted to the Bulldogs until the end of next season but the club has signed Melbourne, NSW and Australia winger Josh Addo-Carr.

If he was to join the Warriors, Watene-Zelezniak would play on the wing as they recruited teen Reece Walsh as their long-term fullback earlier this season after captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck accepted an offer from Rugby New Zealand to switch codes in 2022.



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