Widdop to make shock return
Gareth Widdop has given England boss Steve McNamara a huge boost by returning from injury far earlier than expected.
The Melbourne Storm stand-off was ruled out for the rest of the NRL season after he suffered a dislocated hip in the round 15 clash with the Gold Coast Titans.
But the 24-year-old has made a rapid recovery from the injury and will feature for the Storm's feeder club Easts Tigers against Mackay Cutters on Saturday.
If he comes through unscathed, he could be considered for a return to first-grade action during the forthcoming NRL play-offs.
The news is a major lift for McNamara as he prepares to finalise his squad for the World Cup, which starts on October 26.
Melbourne football director Frank Ponissi said: "He's gone beyond the call of professionalism in getting himself back.
"But the medical staff are very reluctant to give any indication whether he can play again for the Storm in the upcoming weeks.
"They are quite conservative because they want to see after the first week of running how he comes back."