PLAYING back in his home country is a learning curve for Gareth Widdop.

Born in Halifax but having moved to Australia aged 16, his Warrington Wolves debut in Sunday’s defeat at Wakefield Trinity was his first league fixture outside of the southern hemisphere.

A heavy, mud-soaked pitch and an 18-8 reverse at the Mobile Rocket Stadium cannot have quite been the debut he had in mind, but all focus is now on putting it right.

Toronto Wolfpack stand in his way of doing just that at The Halliwell Jones Stadium tomorrow, Friday, as he makes his home debut for his new club.

“It was like being back at under 8s because of the conditions on the field,” he said after his Wire bow.

“I haven’t played on a pitch like that for a long time but there’s not much you can do.

“It’s part and parcel of it all I guess and there’s no excuses on our behalf. We’ll be better for it.

“It took me back to playing at King Cross in Halifax. My boots had never been that dirty before!

“It’s different when you’re used to having fast tracks but I’m going to have to get used to all that.

“I’ve not really played in anything like that, not at professional level anyway.

“I’ve been away in Australia, so it was an eye opener, but I’m going to have to learn to play in those conditions and I’m going to have to adapt.

“But it was disappointing with the result. We didn’t perform as well as we’d like to but it’s on to next week.

“In the first half we played all right considering the conditions but then in the second, you can give that many penalties or drop so many balls in conditions like that.

“Against any team, if you turn the ball over like we did you’re not going to win any game. We’ll take a lot of lessons from it and move on.

“It’s a long year. Over here, you play 35 games or whatever, so I’m not too concerned at the moment.

“We’ve set some standards though and we didn’t play to them.”

Having arrived in the country in December alongside wife Carley and children Brayden, Harper and Willow in tow, the family are slowly getting used to life in England.

In terms of adapting to their new home, the half-back says they are “slowly getting there.”

“It’s good, it’s a lot different – it’s cold and wet,” he said on his new life.

“But that’s part of the challenge and we’re enjoying it.

“The family are slowly getting there too. It’s hard coming from summertime in Australia to an English winter, when it’s freezing and you can’t get out and about.

“Other than that, life’s going all right.”

Before arriving in England, Widdop featured in all four Great Britain Test matches during the off-season.

After the Lions lost twice to New Zealand and once each to a Tongan Invitational XIII and Papua New Guinea, head coach Wayne Bennett’s contract with the RFL was not renewed.

He has been replaced by former Wigan boss Shaun Wane, who will coach the England side in the upcoming Ashes series against Australia and next year’s Rugby League World Cup on home soil.

However, Widdop’s focus is on impressing his new teammates and fans rather than his new national team boss.

“Wayne’s been really good for England. He took us to the World Cup final and we just fell short,” he said.

“Since he took over, we improved a hell of a lot but obviously England made a decision, obviously with the tour at the end of the year and the World Cup the following year.

“I suppose a lot of people are happy we’ve got an English coach now and Shaun’s had a lot of success.

“I’m excited for the tour at the end of the year but I’m more excited about playing for Warrington and playing over here.

“I’m not really doing research into Shaun at the moment. My main focus is Warrington and I’ve got a lot of games between now and the end of the year.”