Ex-NRL champion comes out of retirement to join hometown Championship club ahead of 2024

Ben Olawumi
Gareth Widdop

Gareth Widdop in action for England in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final against Australia - Alamy

Former NRL champion and England ace Gareth Widdop has joined hometown Championship outfit Halifax Panthers ahead of 2024, coming out of retirement to do so.

The half-back – who also featured at full-back earlier on in his career – only announced that he’d be hanging up his boots back in October, cutting short his time at Castleford Tigers to do so having initially penned a two-year deal ahead of the season just gone.

Widdop though will take his senior career into a 15th campaign come 2024, with the former Warrington Wolves ace set to feature in the Championship for the first time ever.

He has penned a deal to join Liam Finn’s Panthers, who this year – under Simon Grix – finished 8th and missed out on the play-offs, but lifted the 1895 Cup under the Wembley arch.

Ex-NRL champion Gareth Widdop comes out of retirement to join hometown Championship club Halifax Panthers ahead of 2024

The 34-year-old – who emigrated to Australia aged 12 – made close to 200 appearances in the NRL between Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra.

Born in Halifax, he lifted the NRL Premiership with Melbourne in 2012, winning the World Club Challenge against then-Super League champions Leeds Rhinos which followed the year after. Joining Super League outfit Warrington Wolves ahead of 2020, he scored 20 tries in 49 appearances over three seasons before moving onto Cas.

Amidst his achievements at club level, Widdop has also starred on the international stage, with caps for Great Britain and the World All Stars as well as 28 in England colours between 2010 and 2018, featuring in two World Cups.

Halifax confirmed his signing via social media this evening, posting the below on X.

READ NEXT: Bradford Bulls young gun departs by mutual consent after six years with Championship big-hitters