NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL talking points: Gareth Widdop set for return; Sam Burgess latest; Jack De Belin update
Last Updated: 26/07/19 8:37pm
Jenna Brooks has the latest from the NRL as a boost for the Dragons could spell disaster for Warrington. Plus news on Sam Burgess, Kallum Watkins and Jack De Belin.
There is some concerning news for Warrington Wolves, with reports suggesting St George Illawarra Dragons are preparing to bring back Gareth Widdop ahead of schedule.
Widdop, who has been battling shoulder problems for the last couple of seasons, dislocated it again in round three.
The Dragons captain has not played for four months after undergoing surgery and was not expected to return until round 23.
However, Corey Norman, the Dragons five-eighth, is willing to switch to full-back if it means the England international can return in time to take on South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday.
"I'm not too sure what the positional change will be, but if I have to move for Gareth I am more than happy to do that," Norman said.
"[Widdop] would be a massive inclusion for us. He is our captain, he has been at our club for so long and he is moving on at the end of the year, so Gaz wants to finish on a high as well."
If he is fit then it's a massive boost for the struggling Dragons. However, if the 14th-placed side are rushing him back, then it could spell disaster for the Wolves, who have signed him for next season.
Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook is hoping Sam Burgess will be back for South Sydney soon.
Burgess had shoulder surgery after round 13 and was only expected to miss two games, but instead a post-operative infection delayed his comeback.
The England international has trained this week, but didn't take part in the team's contact session.
"He got in and did his running early. I think he's feeling good. He is confident he will be back in the next couple of weeks," Cook said.
Despite being sidelined indefinitely, Wayne Bennett has named his star forward among the reserves. However, Burgess is still battling the infection and it is unlikely he will make an appearance this week.
"When the doctor thinks he's fit, that's when he'll be back," Bennett said.
"The rest of the season? No, that's not going to happen."
Kallum Watkins is set to make his Titans debut on Saturday when the Gold Coast play Brisbane Broncos live on Sky Sports.
Watkins will play at right centre and is hoping to make an immediate impact for his new team that are bottom of the table, having won just four games this year.
"I'll know more after I play but training-wise it's pretty similar," Watkins said. "It's a lot more intense, but at the same time you play less games here compared to Super League where you play 30 games a season regardless of whether you're in the [Challenge] Cup or not.
"I'll do everything that I can with the way I train and the way I conduct myself on and off the field, and perform consistently on the pitch.
"That's what I need to do to help get this team back to where they want to be."
Watkins takes on former Leeds Rhinos team-mate Ryan Hall next week when the Titans play Sydney Roosters in round 20 and he admits it will be odd.
"It's going to be quite strange playing against each other," Watkins said.
"I just asked how their team is and how he's enjoying it and he said it's been really good and the boys are brilliant and it's pretty much the same here."
De Belin update
St George Illawarra player Jack de Belin will stand trial on five charges after allegedly attacking a 19-year-old woman at a Wollongong unit in December.
Four counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and a new charge of aggravated sexual assault in company causing actual bodily harm.
The new charge carries a maximum of life behind bars.
De Belin appeared in Local Court where it was confirmed that additional and more serious charges had been laid against him.
De Belin pleaded not guilty in February.
The case has now been formally committed for trial in the New South Wales District Court on August 20.