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St George make offer to retain 
in-demand Widdop

Gareth Widdop.
Gareth Widdop.
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St George Illawarra say they are confident of keeping England international Gareth Widdop as speculation continues to link him with a move to Super League.

The Halifax-born stand-off is out of contract at the end of the season and Leeds, who will soon have to find replacements for ageing half-backs Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, are among the clubs thought to be interested in acquiring his services for 2018.

However, Dragons director of rugby league pathways Ian Millward, the former St Helens coach, says his club have made a new offer to the 27-year-old in a bid to keep him.

“At this point in time, we’ve made him an offer to stay. We’re only in very early discussions,” Millward. “We’d like to keep Gareth at our club.

“We haven’t put a time frame on it – we want dialogue to keep progressing.”

Widdop, who won his 21st cap in England’s 36-18 defeat by Australia in London in November, was a Bradford fan before emigrating with his family to Australia at the age of 16 and spent four seasons with Melbourne before joining St George Illawarra three years ago.

He produced a man-of-the-match performance in the Dragons’ opening 42-10 win over Penrith last weekend.

Wigan forward John Bateman has undergone shoulder surgery that will force him to miss England’s mid-season international against Samoa.

The 23-year-old former Bradford second rower, whose only appearance for the Warriors so far this year came in their World Club Challenge victory over Cronulla in February, was ruled out until June after further scans revealed the true extent of his injury.

“John is going to be out for three months,” said Wane.

Bateman confirmed on social media on Friday morning that he has had his operation.

“Thanks everyone for the get well soon messages and support,” he said on his Twitter account. “Operation done and my recovery is under way.”

Bateman, a member of coach Wayne Bennett’s 30-man elite performance squad, has played in six of England’s last seven matches and would have been in the running for the Test match against Samoa in Sydney on May 6.