Gareth Widdop is set to defy the wishes of St George Illawarra and feature in the World Cup after ramping up his recovery from a serious hip injury, according to Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy.
The English international returned to running in a bid to help engineer the downfall of World Cup holders New Zealand favourites Australia in the end-of-year tournament.
The Dragons were understood to be hesitant about Widdop taking part in the World Cup after he dislocated his hip against the Gold Coast in June.
The 24-year-old, who inked a four-year deal to join the Dragons from next year, was lured to Wollongong to help solve the halves dilemma.
Widdop is considered almost no chance of helping the Storm's title defence but was on the training paddock yesterday.
"He's been back doing a little bit on the exercise bike and he's been doing a bit of straight line running," Bellamy said.
"The World Cup is still a way away so I'm not sure that's what St George [Illawarra] want to hear but I think Gareth is leaning towards playing in the World Cup and obviously the Poms would be glad to have him."
Dragons high performance director Andrew Gray told the Mercury earlier this month he consulted Widdop about his injury but wouldn't take a hands-on role in his recovery until he became contracted to St George Illawarra on November 1.
"I have been in touch with Gareth and I will have more discussions with him over the next few months, but it's up to the Melbourne Storm to decide how they look after Gareth," Gray said.
"We can't really intervene there and we won't because we wouldn't like it if another club did that to a player we still had on contract."
Bellamy said Widdop, who would have spent four months on the sidelines, wouldn't take any undue risks.
"I'm sure he won't do anything silly but I'm sure he'd be a really good inclusion for England ... ."
The Dragons' former Kiwi international Bronson Harrison is one of a host of Dragons players eyeing a ticket to the Old Dart.
"It's a tough ask [to be included in the New Zealand squad]," Harrison said.
"If it comes it comes, but if it doesn't then I'll work hard for the Dragons.
"We'll wanting to be setting the momentum for the pre-season but there's also a bit of pride [to play for].
"There's some young kids getting some experience and hopefully they'll all take it in and carry it into next year."