Gareth Widdop has ‘nothing to prove’ against former club Warrington 

Josh McAllister
Gareth Widdop, SWPix.

Castleford half-back Gareth Widdop insists he has nothing to prove against his former club Warrington as he prepares to face Super League’s leaders for the first time since his departure. 

Widdop, 34, made the switch from the Halliwell Jones Stadium to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on a two-year deal from 2023.

His Tigers side picked up their first win of the season last week with a 14-8 victory over Leeds at home, a step in the right direction for current interim boss Andy Last, who has made no secret of his desire to land the permanent job.

Ex-England playmaker Widdop was one of seven permanent exits from Warrington at the end of last year as Daryl Powell opted for a major squad overhaul for 2023.

But Widdop insists he has nothing to prove against his ex-club, instead looking ahead to reuniting with his former team-mates.

He said: “I wouldn’t say I’ve got anything to prove. For me, it’s just about getting out there and doing a job for my team-mates here at Castleford and this club and make sure I go out there and put in a good performance.

“It is enjoyable coming up against your old team-mates. I’ve got a fair few in that team along with a couple of my Aussie mates who I played with a number of years over there and who are now at Warrington.

“It’s always good coming up against your friends. It’s an important game for us at Cas and we need to go out there and put in a good performance.”

Gareth Widdop on reuniting with former team-mates and friends

Within that friendship list includes former NRL players Matt Dufty and Paul Vaughan.

Full-back Dufty, 27, forward Vaughan, 31, and Widdop all played alongside each other at St George Illawarra Dragons in Australia.

Widdop enjoyed his spell at the club between 2014-2019, while both Dufty and Vaughan featured across 2017 to 2021.

Three-time Great Britain representative Widdop got the chance to reunite with Dufty in 2022 following the Australian’s mid-season switch to England, while ex-New South Wales prop Vaughan made the move ahead of 2023.

“I played with Matt Dufty and Paul Vaughan over in Australia. They’re a good couple of mates and I played with them for a good numbers of years actually,” Widdop told Love Rugby League.

“Dufty will be carrying on as usual on game day. So I look forward to getting out there and playing him.

“I’ve played against Vaughan when he was at Canberra. I don’t think I’ve ever played against Dufty. When I moved (to Super League), I think he had gone to the Bulldogs. It’ll be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.”

It means Widdop will know best when it comes to playing them as opposition, with Warrington enjoying an unbeaten start to the 2023 campaign thanks to four try involvements from Dufty and an impressive start to Vaughan’s Super League career.

“We’ve got a big job on our hands.”

“I spent a lot of years with Dufty and he’s a quality player,” Widdop continued.

“You can see how quick he is and he’s got a good passing game as well. It’ll certainly be very important that we try and minimise his impact – he’s dangerous. We’ve got a big job on our hands.

“Vaughan has been tremendous so far this year. He’s a great player and carries the ball really well.

“With some of the other front-rowers they’ve got there in (Sam) Kasiano and (Thomas) Mikaele, we need to make sure that we’re doing a good job on their go forward, because off the back of that they’ve got some quality halves and obviously Dufty out the back.

“It’s super important that we do a good job on their middles tomorrow.”

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