Widdop ready to kick start Dragons

RUGBY LEAGUE

Gareth Widdop has expressed a desire to assume Jamie Soward's role as a goalkicking five-eighth for the Dragons - little more than six months after his sickening hip injury.

Widdop's intent could end arguably the biggest quandary for St George Illawarra coach Steve Price, who is without a recognised sharp shooter after the Dragons' roster shake-up for 2014.

Soward's mid-season exit last year forced the Red V to use Chase Stanley, Josh Dugan and, even, Cameron King at various stages.

Stanley proved a more than able replacement but he since moved to the Bulldogs while King was released early from his contract to join the Cowboys.

Widdop, who played second fiddle behind Australian and Queensland skipper Cameron Smith at the Storm, said he would be more than happy to fill the void.

The Dragons' major off-season recruit progressed remarkably well since he dislocated his hip in June last year and shrugged off concerns the goalkicking would be another burden.

"I've grown up liking kicking and in my junior career I was a goalkicker and in 20s I was a goalkicker," Widdop said.

"It wasn't until I came into first grade and Smithy was there [I stopped]. I've done a little bit [in pre-season] by myself going through my own routines, but I've got to do a lot of practice.

"There's no one specific at the moment, but I'm sure there will be people [ready to do it] and I'm more than happy to take on the goalkicking."

Widdop was used as a back-up goalkicker for England in the World Cup. He also nailed more than 75 per cent of his shots at goal while at Melbourne when Smith was on representative duty.

Price said he would make a decision on his preferred option closer to the trials.

"We've got a number of candidates there in Gareth Widdop, Josh Dugan, Kyle Stanley, Adam Quinlan, Dylan Farrell and Michael Witt," he said.

"We'll just wait and see over the coming weeks."

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