Widdop closes on shock comeback for Storm

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England’s Halifax-born stand-off Gareth Widdop will make a shock comeback with Melbourne Storm’s Queensland Cup feeder club Easts Tigers against Mackay Cutters on Saturday.

Widdop, 24, who dislocated his hip in an NRL round 15 match against the Gold Coast Titans, was initially ruled out for the rest of the season.

However, he has made rapid progress with his recovery, giving him the opportunity to determine if he can be considered for first-grade football during the Storm’s play-off series.

It is a major boost for England coach Steve McNamara as he prepares to finalise his squad for the World Cup, which starts on October 26.

Melbourne football director Frank Ponissi said his club were stunned by the speed of Widdop’s recovery.

“He’s gone beyond the call of professionalism in getting himself back,” he said.

“(But) the medical staff are very reluctant to give any indication whether he can play again for the Storm in the upcoming weeks.

“They are quite conservative because they want to see after the first week of running how he comes back.”