Man of Steel Contenders: Gareth Widdop
Waves of excitement rippled through Warrington when Gareth Widdop confirmed that he would be joining the Wolves in 2020. With excitement came expectation, and after a Covid and injury disrupted season, it’s fair to say his first year in Betfred Super League had periods of lacklustre.
In 2021 however, Widdop has proven those critics wrong. An experienced half who has won NRL Grand Finals and played in a World Cup Final, he brings more than just skill; he has inserted valuable experience, a winning mentality and above all, leadership in the Warrington set up.
Despite the Wolves premature exit in this year's Play-Offs, their 2021 performances have often offered quality and pace, finishing the season in a deserved third place and just one win behind early season favourites, St Helens.
The Wolves number 7 has played a large part in this success – he has contributed to 23 tries in just 17 Super League appearances this season. His leadership in the halves along with a quick-thinking rugby brain has Widdop rightfully earn plaudits throughout the year. He's a competitor that fights for every play and an immensely skilful player that can create opportunities from anywhere on the pitch.
An impressive personal tally of 10 tries and 13 assists shows the creative impact he brings. He crossed for an impressive hattrick against the Tigers back in June, as well as an utterly dominant performance against the Centurions in Round 2 – Widdop finishing with two tries and two assists that day.
Remarkably, Widdop has been included in five of the six Player of the Month shortlists this season. No other player has featured as frequently as Widdop, highlighting the constant impact he has had on his Warrington side, and Super League, this season.
His consistent, standout performances have been duly recognised – after winning Player of the Month award in May, he now finds himself in the final five for the coveted Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award.
The May Player of the Month 🔥@WarringtonRLFC's Gareth Widdop#SuperLeague
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) June 17, 2021
His blossoming half-back partnership with George Williams, who arrived midway through the year, is showing signs of being a great combination for Warrington. Widdop has shown no signs of slowing down following Williams’ arrival and with Daryl Powell at the helm in 2022, the Wolves will be a force to be reckoned with.
Before that, however, there’s still the small matter of the Man of Steel. Widdop has demonstrated his steely resolve after an indifferent start to life at Warrington – he has fought through adversity and stands tall as an influential leader at the Wolves.
Will he be crowned the 2021 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel? Find out on Monday 4 October live on Sky Sports Mix from 8.30pm.