Warrington Wolves new signing Gareth Widdop has opened up about the bushfire troubles back in Australia and the sense of helplessness that he cannot do anything to really help.
Australia have once again been hit by the devastating bushfires that have been raging for months with no real sign of any let up.
Widdop may be thousands of miles away from all the danger, but he admits he still has family and friends in Australia and it’s very worrying times.
He said: “It’s pretty scary, I’m still worried actually because it’s very close to where I live on the south coast. A couple of weeks before we moved out, we weren’t really allowed to get out and about. The smoke was horrendous, it doesn’t seem to be easing up. It’s only about 20 minutes, half an hour away from where I live.
“We’ve got some family and friends who live down the coast that have been affected. It’s not ideal is it? It’s quite scary to be honest. Hopefully we’ll get some rain soon. Our house hasn’t been affected yet, but it’s on the south coast. If it keeps creeping up, which I hope it doesn’t, it is pretty close and I hope they can keep on top of it.”
To make matters worse for the England and Great Britain international, he is now on the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury.
The 30-year-old former Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra star picked up the knock in training and is currently wearing a protective boot on his ankle and managing to get about on crutches.
He added: “I’m fine. I suppose it’s part and parcel of the game. Sometimes these things happen. Obviously, it’s not the ideal start but it’s good to be back home and I’m really looking forward to the season.
“It’s just a minor setback, but all in all I am enjoying being here and getting to know the boys, getting to know the town and the area. Apart from the setback, I’m really enjoying it.
“I did it in training. It was just one of them accidents. I just rolled my ankle. There’s nothing in it, unfortunately I’ve done some damage and there’s nothing I can do about. It could have happened to anyone.
“I knew I’d done something as I couldn’t finish training. It’s part and parcel of the game and these things happen. It’s not ideal, but you’ve got to get on with it, crack on with my rehab and try and get back as soon as possible.”
Widdop admits he is finding it strange being back in England after moving to Australia when he was just 16, but he expects to get to used to the cold and will soon be treating Warrington as his home.
He said: “I was fine coming into pre-season, really enjoying it and getting used to the cold and muddy fields. It’s just really unfortunate and it could have happened to anybody. It is what it is.
“I suppose I still call Australia home now that I’m here. I’ve been away for 12 years, my wife and kids are all Australian so Oz is home to them. It’s still a bit strange to be honest, I’ve only been back in the country about a week.
“I’m still finding my feet and my bearings. I’ve got a bit of family here but it’s going to take a couple of months to fully settle in but I’m enjoying it. It’s very different to the lifestyle I’ve lived for the past 11 years.”
Widdop also revealed that he always had dreams of playing in Super League and he felt now was the right time to come over, rather than wait until the final stages of his career.
“It was always my intention as a kid (to play Super League), he added. “I was born and raised here growing up wanting to play Super League, so I always wanted to come across and play in Super League at some.
“You don’t really know when the time is right, but I just felt at the stage I was in my career that this was the right time. I didn’t want to come over when I was 34, old and busted. I want to come here and have some success and have a good crack at it. I thought the time was right to come over now and I’m looking forward to getting started.
“They are a great club, It helps when you have a lot of friends here. I’ve played with a lot of the boys through the international tours that I’ve been on. It’s a well-managed club, I want to be part of a team to hopefully win a Grand Final, something the club hasn’t been able to achieve.”