WARRINGTON Wolves’ stance on Gareth Widdop has remained unchanged pretty much since the moment he stepped off the plane.

After his debut season in Super League was dogged by constant rumours of a quick return to the NRL, the club have continued to pour cold water on any reports.

The rumours are not going away, though, and many supporters are of the “no smoke without fire” opinion on the matter.

Regardless of what comes out of the club, many are convinced they will not see Widdop in a Wire shirt again.

Family comes first and Widdop will make whatever decision he has to with them in mind first and foremost, as would anyone.

From an on-field perspective, though, it would no doubt be disruptive as once again, The Wire would have to blood a new half-back partnership for next season.

It does beg the question, though – if Widdop does indeed leave as plenty expect him to, is his replacement already at the club?

In the times Widdop was unavailable this year, the responsibility of filling the scrum-half role has fallen upon Stefan Ratchford.

Warrington Guardian:

If anything, the games in which he has featured in the halves were among The Wire’s better performances of the season just gone, including both victories over St Helens.

That is not to do Widdop a disservice or belittle his contributions, but Ratchford is clearly capable of holding that position down.

Doing it for a few games at a time is of course vastly different to doing it for an entire season but if anyone can be trusted to handle such responsibility, surely Ratchford is near the top of that list.

In the past, however, Steve Price has been reluctant to move Ratchford from full-back – the position he has made his own over the years.

That stance did soften last year somewhat, especially with the emergence of Matty Ashton and the continued progression of Josh Thewlis as alternatives.

Is it also time for Riley Dean to step up as a back-up half-back if, as expected, Declan Patton departs the club upon the expiry of his contract?

All are things for those in charge to consider and it could mean that, should there be a Widdop-sized hole in The Wire’s salary cap, they may not have to spend it on a replacement and instead divert any potential marquee salaries towards their forward pack.

Of course, all of this is hypothetical for now and until any departure is officially confirmed, there is still the possibility Widdop could stay.

What is for sure is that the situation will be watched with great interest on both sides of the globe.