PICTURE BY CHRIS MANGNALL /SWPIX.COM...
Rugby League - International Friendlies -  England v France - Leigh Sports Village, England  - 24/10/15 
England's  Gareth Widdop

St George Illawarra Dragons captain Gareth Widdop notes that it is always a pleasure to represent the England Lions ahead of the upcoming Four Nations Tournament in England later in October.

Widdop has welcomed the opportunity to compete against some of the best players in the world on home soil noting that the upcoming contest will only help further grow the game in the country.

The Dragons skipper is also keen to see how his fellow teammates perform on the big stage with their respective countries and hope to line-up against at least one in the Grand Final to be contest at Anfield, Liverpool.

The Lions, which also features departing prop Mike Cooper,will additionally play an international fixture against France at Parc des Sports, Avignon on Saturday, October 22.

“It’s always a pleasure representing your home country, especially getting to go back home and playing in front of friends and family, is a huge achievement for myself and I’m looking forward to it,” said Widdop.

“It’s great for rugby league in England in general to be hosting such a tournament and getting the best players from around the world to come there can only attract big crowds and help grow the game further.

“For me having the opportunity to possibly play in front of friends and family is something also special.

“The venues are all over the shop this year and there’s a good spread of places covered which also allows to travel the country a bit.

“Obviously, the main goal is to be playing in the Grand Final which will be hosted at Anfield, which as everyone knows, is a great ground with a rich history and would be a huge occasion to run out at.

“It’s disappointing to see Mike leave the Dragons but hopefully it allows me one last opportunity to run out alongside him in with the England team.

“He is a proud Englishman who will be trying to do all he can to get a spot in the team and play well.

“It’s also good to see guys from your team also representing their countries and backgrounds, such as Tyson who had such a big year and got selected for Australia.

“It’s no doubt a huge honour for Josh as well who has been in the mix with the Kangaroos all season as well as Jason for New Zealand and Euan with Scotland.”