By STEVE MASCORD
ENGLAND coach Steve McNamara will today visit stricken Gareth Widdop in Robina Hospital and says its a huge blow to the host nation’s World Cup chances that the Melbourne five-eighth is out of the tournament.
Widdop was carried off in agony 51 minutes into Gold Coast’s 18-12 win over Melbourne at Skilled Park and after initial fears he could return from a dislocated hip within six weeks, Storm coach Craig Bellamy admitted late last night his season was over.
McNamara arrived in Australia on Wednesday to run the rule over selection candidates and told NRL.com after discussing the injury with Craig Bellamy in the sheds that it was a horrible thing to witness.
“It’s terrible – devastating for Gareth individually and certainly for his club Melbourne Storm who he’s been playing very well for,” McNamara said.
“And for us internationally, if it’s as bad as first feared, it’s going to be very tough for Gareth to be available and fit for the World Cup.
“But you never know. He’s obviously in very good hands there and we’ll see what happens overnight and first thing in the morning when I go and visit him in hospital.”
Bellamy told Triple M late last night: “I just spoke to the doctor, it doesn’t look good.
“It looks like he’s not going to play again this year and that’s even the best case scenario.
“It depends what the x-rays or scans show. It could be a real long-term injury. Hopefully they’ll get it (hip) back in and go from there.
“I haven’t seen too many dislocated hips in all my time in the game, maybe only two or three. He’s quite resilient too.
“I’m a little bit shattered in myself that that’s the way he’s going to finish his career with us.”
McNamara had hoped to see George Burgess play for South Sydney on Sunday but he was suspended last week for disciplinary reasons and the former St George lock instead witnessed the debut of brother Tom.
He showed up at Skilled Park last night hoping to run the rule over Widdop, who played off the bench in the 2011 Four Nations and missed the 2012 Autumn Internationals through injury.
“You could tell just by his reaction on the field that he was in severe pain,” said McNamara. “Basically, he didn’t want anyone near him at one stage.
“It was obvious it was severe but I honestly didn’t think it was going to be as bad as the doctors and medics think it’s going to be. Our thoughts are with Gareth and his family.
“I’m sure he will recover, he’ll definitely recover but it’s just a matter of how long that process is going to take.”
When Wests Tigers centre Chris Lawrence dislocated his hip in 2011, it was four months before he could even run again.
“I’ve probably not seen one like this before,” said McNamara. “It’s very difficult to do that sort of injury. “
McNamara has been criticised for not making greater use of Halifax-raised Widdop in the past. “I’ve said all along … people have made comments about ‘what’s your team going to be, why are we playing these guessing games?’
“And I’ve said ‘it will be very doubtful that we’ll get through the season without some injuries and this just goes to show that. It can happen in the blink of any eye.
“We’ve got plenty of people in that position on the field but Gareth was putting himself in a very strong position by the standard of his performances in the NRL this year.
By STEVE MASCORD