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Widdop on track for Storm NRL finals

Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop is planning a shock return from a dislocated hip for the NRL finals.
Widdop on track for Storm NRL finals
by AAP

By Melissa Woods

MELBOURNE, Sept 3 AAP - Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop is planning a shock return from a dislocated hip for the NRL finals.

The England international is set to play in the Storm's Queensland Cup feeder side Easts this Sunday and is eyeing a spot in week one of the finals.

Widdop wasn't expected to play again this season after suffering the horrific injury against Gold Coast in round 15 in late June.

He was initially only hopeful of being fit for the Rugby League World Cup, which kicks off in the UK on October 26, but is ready for an early comeback with rehabilitation well ahead of schedule.

"If he plays on Sunday, we'll obviously see how he goes for the finals," said Storm Football Manager Frank Ponissi.

"He's only been training with the team for two weeks but it's a lot better than we thought.

"He's done a bit of contact and will do a bit more tomorrow.

"He's well and truly been put through his paces."

While Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy last week played down a possible return for the playmaker, the Storm dropped a big hint last weekend that Widdop was ready to get back into action.

The 24-year-old was named on the Easts Tigers' official team sheet for their Queensland Cup final-round clash with Souths Logan Magpies.

Widdop never intended actually playing but had to be named once during the season to qualify for their semi-final against Mackay Cutters on Sunday.

It meant Easts were a player short on the bench but the move was cleared by the Queensland Rugby League and the Tigers weren't troubled, winning 50-6.

Ponissi said Widdop still had to complete Storm training this week.

As long as he did that, he would start for Easts and then be available for Melbourne's first final against South Sydney or the Sydney Roosters.

Meanwhile, coach Craig Bellamy has named an 18-man squad to take on the Titans in the their last regular-season game at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon.

It's an unchanged side from the one that was soundly beaten 28-8 by Manly, with Tim Glasby added to the bench.

While Melbourne can finish no lower than fourth, Gold Coast can still make the finals if they win and either Newcastle or North Queensland lose.




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