‘Bachelor’ fans think ‘Queen Victoria’ was hired by producers, but Becca Kufrin and Ben Higgins disagree


  • Many viewers – and a few alums – think contestant Victoria Larson is a producer plant on “The Bachelor.”
  • But “Bachelor” stars Becca Kufrin and Ben Higgins told Insider they don’t agree.
  • Both Kufrin and Higgins said they have never known the show to use actors before.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Matt James’ season of the “The Bachelor” has only been on-air for a few weeks, but his contestants have already stirred up plenty of controversy.

And no “Bachelor” contender has made more headlines than Victoria Larson, who has been at the centre of drama ever since she walked in and called herself a queen during the premiere.

Larson has been the subject of much Twitter debate, with many viewers — and even a few “Bachelor” alums — claiming that she must be a hired actress.

But “Bachelor” stars Becca Kufrin and Ben Higgins told Insider that they think she’s authentic.

“I always think it’s so funny when people say producer plant,” Kufrin said. “Producers don’t need plants, there are many very outgoing, funny, witty, charismatic, crazy girls that they can find each season. So the fact that people think that there’s producer plants — there’s really not.”

Victoria Larson started making waves the moment she arrived

By the second episode, Larson was already telling her fellow “Bachelor” contestants that she was “so sick” of being with them at the Nemacolin resort, where James’ season was filmed due to pandemic restrictions.

“I hate this girl power s—,” she said at one point during the episode. “I’m not here to be in a sorority.”

Larson then turned her attention to her roommate Marylynn Sienna, who she called “toxic” and “manipulative.” She brought up her concerns to both James and the other women — all of whom seemed surprised by the claims. Sienna was sent home by James in the following rose ceremony.

Some former ‘Bachelor’ alums have wondered if Larson is a producer plant to create drama on the show

J.P Rosenbaum, who won Ashley Herbert’s season of “The Bachelorette” in 2011, said he thinks there’s “no way” that Larson is “just a random contestant.”

Ashley Iaconetti — who has appeared on “The Bachelor,” “Bachelor in Paradise,” and “The Bachelor Winter Games” — also wondered whether Larson was “a hired actress.”

“Seriously! I’m actually wondering about this,” she wrote in her recap for Cosmopolitan. “Because for someone who waltzed in calling herself a queen, I thought she’d have a sense of humour about herself, but nope, she has zippo!”

“For the record, during my involvement with the show and based on everything else I know, there has NEVER been such a thing as a hired plant,” she added.

But Kufrin and Higgins both believe that Larson is 100% authentic

“In my years of being around the show I have never known someone to be planted by producers,” Higgins, who starred as “The Bachelor” in 2016, told Insider. “I think it’s easy to assume that producers planned for someone to be there as a ‘planted character within the show’ but I have never heard of that.”

“There is still a lot to the behind-the-scenes of the show that I do not know, but I would imagine if the show casted actors I would have known about that by now,” he added. “As a result, I don’t think she was asked to be anything other than herself.”

Kufrin — who starred as “The Bachelorette” in 2018 — agreed, adding that the show gets a wide variety of applicants to choose from for every season.

“People are just outgoing,” she added. “I’m sure people go on like, ‘I’m going to make a name for myself and be the villain or the wild card.’”

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AFL 2021, pre-season news, updates, gym, Max King, St Kilda, Brett Ratten, Ben King, Gold Coast, Stuart Dew


King twins Max and Ben are ready to take another step in their AFL development in 2021.

After impressing over the last two years, the 200cm plus forwards have yet again bulked up across the summer as they continue their growth inside 50.

Max made his debut in the opening round of 2020 booting two goals, ending the season with 22 majors from 18 games, including two finals appearances.

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Round 1

New look Roos hoping to bounce back

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NRL 2020: David Nofaluma re-signs with Wests Tigers, Ben Te’o, Broncos, Josh Mansour signs with Rabbitohs, transfer centre, signings tracker


Ben Te’o has signed a new contract with Brisbane for 2021.

The 33-year-old — who has played 138 NRL games — will add crucial experience depth to Brisbane’s pack.

Meanwhile, the Tigers have confirmed star winger David Nofoaluma has re-signed on a four year deal which will see him remain at the club until at least the end of 2025.

It’s a huge boost for the Tigers ahead of the 2021 season after Nofoaluma had a year to remember in 2020 and earned a spot in the Dally M Team of the Year as ell as being named the club’s player of the year.

Round 1

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James Harden to Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons stays, mistake, ecstatic


Ben Simmons is reportedly “pretty ecstatic” about being left alone as NBA superstar James Harden left the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets.

The move sees the eight-time All-Star joining top dogs Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in New York in a team now overflowing with alpha personalities who like the ball in their hands.

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The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Nets are giving up four unprotected first-round draft picks and four first-round pick swaps to get their man in a wild deal that also involves Cleveland and Indiana.

ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski called Houston’s return “one of the strongest draft packages in league history”.

“Whatever the future of Kyrie Irving with the Nets, this trade does one more important thing for Brooklyn: It makes a strong case to help keep the franchise’s most important player — Kevin Durant — beyond his current contract,” Wojnarowski added.

The Rockets will also get Victor Oladipo, Aussie Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs.

But the man they won’t get is Ben Simmons.

While his offensive production has been down to start the season, Simmons has proven himself to be one of the best defenders in the NBA.

An All-Defensive first team member last season and 2018 Rookie of the Year, Simmons’ relationship with Joel Embiid has long been criticised as not being strong enough to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.

But with shooters brought into the team to allow Embiid and Simmons to operate in the paint, ESPN’s The Undefeated reporter Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Aussie believes this season is different.

“Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden and believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star,” he tweeted.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic said Simmons is “fine” after the deal went down with Shams Charania reporting that Simmons was put on the trading block.

In the end, the Rockets believed “the Nets offer just supplanted that” and that the 76ers didn’t want to “mortgage their entire future” on Harden, according to Charania.

The Simmons deal reportedly had Simmons and Matisse Thybulle but the Rockets also wanted rookie Tyrese Maxey.

But CBS’s Brad Botkin, who said he didn’t believe Simmons was a franchise player but that the Aussie was the one thing the Rockets didn’t get with the big trade haul.

“It’s not a terrible bet. Still, not coming away with Simmons in a situation like this is a risk. You can pile up picks all you want and never end up with a franchise player, which some people still believe Simmons can be with the right supporting cast,” he wrote in a piece pondering if the Rockets got too greedy with the deal.

For the Nets, Harden has proved to be a divisive player with his petulant tantrum to get out of Houston.

It will also have a lot of money tied up in its best three players.

Irving, Durant and Harden all have two years left on their deals worth $34 million ($A44m), $40m ($A52m) and $44m ($57m) a season, at least $236 million ($A305m) according to The Athletic.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said in November that a Harden trade to Brooklyn could become a “beautiful disaster.”

“It’s three guys who are used to having the ball all the time,” he said on the Bill Simmons podcast.

“Harden and Durant are really good friends from way, way back. Kyrie is somebody that likes to have the ball. I don’t know how I feel about it. It could be a beautiful disaster, or it could be absolutely devastating.”

Just yesterday, Harden slammed the franchise.

“(The Rockets are) just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear,” he said in a press conference.

“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

But it bent his former teammate’s noses out of shape with DeMarcus Cousins

“Me, personally, I don’t feel betrayed at all,” Cousins said. “My interest was playing with John Wall to be brutally honest. With that being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the answers off the court. I mean, the disrespect started way before.”

And the move has also drawn a target on the Nets’ back with anything short of a championship to be considered a failure.

The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro said the offensive talents of the team could see 150 points being put on some nights – but it’s come at the expense of the side defensively.

“Taking the Bucks to seven games in an epic Eastern final won’t be enough. Falling to the Lakers in a memorable Finals? Nope. The Nets aren’t just all-in for the next 2-3 years, they are all in for the rest of the decade. Their viability exists in the here and now, defined by a simple equation: Parade or no parade?”

Only time will tell if any of these gambles will pay off.



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Ben Simmons’ Philadelphia 76ers out of running as James Harden leaves Houston Rockets for Brooklyn Nets


The Nets will reportedly send Rodion Kurucs, first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 and swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027 to Houston. Brooklyn will also reportedly send centre Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will send Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick to the Rockets.

The Rockets, meanwhile, will reportedly reroute LeVert to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo. ESPN.com first reported the framework of the Nets deal, while The Athletic first reported Indiana’s involvement.

Any move from Philadelphia for former NBA MVP Harden, right, was likely to result in Ben Simmons being traded.

After a pair of demoralising blowout losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden candidly expressed his belief that the struggling Rockets were not salvageable, accelerating long-standing trade talks for the 2018 MVP.

“We’re just not good enough,” Harden said after the Rockets fell at home 117-100 to the defending champions. “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. The situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

The dire assessment from Harden, who has been the face of the Rockets since 2012, comes little more than one month after he reported to training camp late. Multiple reports at the time linked the Rockets with the Nets and 76ers in trade talks involving the three-time scoring champion, who has seen Houston’s roster and organisation change dramatically around him.

When the Lakers eliminated the Rockets from the 2020 play-offs, Harden said that he believed Houston was “a piece away” from title contention. Instead, the Rockets parted ways with Coach Mike D’Antoni, lost general manager Daryl Morey and traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards. Those sweeping, abrupt changes left Harden, 31, to adjust to first-time coach Stephen Silas, first-time general manager Rafael Stone and a new backcourt partner in John Wall.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.Credit:Getty Images

There has been little in the way of instant chemistry, as Harden’s effort has been spotty and his fit with Wall has yet to develop. After eight straight play-off trips, the Rockets have the West’s second-worst record at 3-6 and Harden is scoring 24.8 points per game, his lowest average since he arrived in Houston.

While Harden never issued a public trade request, he arrived at training camp late after partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas without a mask during the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA fined him $US50,000 (about $66,000) for violating the league’s health and safety protocols. Harden is earning $US40.8 million this season and is under contract through at least the 2021-22 season.

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The Rockets elected to keep Harden away from the team’s practice on Wednesday as trade talks with the Nets and 76ers unfolded, and centre DeMarcus Cousins was highly critical of Harden’s recent behaviour.

“The disrespect started way before any interview,” Cousins said Wednesday. “The approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, the disrespect started way before. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night. This is the nasty part of the business. It is what it is.”

The Rockets, who had their season opener postponed after several players were sidelined by positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests and contact tracing, weathered that early turbulence. Hopes that Harden’s trade value might increase or his personal investment in the Rockets might stabilise if he played well to start the season never came to fruition.

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Nets beat 76ers, ‘embarrassing, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, quarantine, Seth Curry COVID-19 positive, Kyrie Irving


Fresh off a shock 122-109 loss to the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers have been forced into quarantine after shooter Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19.

Luckily for both sides Curry was already ruled out of the game with an ankle injury and missed the game.

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Curry immediately went to an isolation room and left the arena separately to the team.

He did spend the first quarter on the bench however and the game against the Nets was also the 76ers’ third in four days.

But his teammates have been forced into quarantine in New York after The Athletics’ Shams Charania revealed the team had learned of Curry’s positive test as the game went on and will stay in New York to undergo contact tracing.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne revealed that Joel Embiid, who sat next to Curry on the bench, would quarantine with his family until he’s sure he didn’t catch the virus.

It could cause havoc around the league if Sixers players are required to quarantine and miss games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols around COVID-19.

The Nets and the Wizards, who the 76ers played yesterday, could also be forced to quarantine and contract trace, which could throw the NBA schedule into chaos.

It continued the worst day the team has had this season after capitulating to a 13-point loss to the Nets without their superstars.

In one of the weirdest absences of the season so far, Nets coach Steve Nash had no idea why Irving wasn’t available or where he was.

But according to Heavy.com senior writer Brandon Robinson, Irving said via a close source that “I just didn’t want to play” following the events in the Washington.

Entering the game 7-1 on the season, the 76ers’ problems of old appeared to have resurfaced with Embiid and Simmons combining for 11 from 27 from the floor.

But it was an improvement on the first half when the pair shot four from 15 combined with the Sixers down by 14 at the break.

NBA legend Charles Barkley labelled the performance “embarrassing”.

Embiid finished with 20 points and 12 boards, with Shake Milton leading the way for Philly with 24 points.

Simmons had a horrible night, with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.

76ers coach Doc Rivers was scathing in his assessment of this game.

“We didn’t come to play is what I saw,” Rivers said. “It was just one of those games. It was disappointing.”

Asked what his focus will be from here, Rivers replied: “Nothing really, other than being awake.”

Joe Harris scored 28 points, while Caris LaVert hit 22 points with 10 assists to lead the Nets to the win.

Despite the 7-1 start before the game being the Sixers’ best record over eight games since 2000-01, fans were quick to turn on Philly.



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Ben Cutting happy to have left Heat for Thunder


Proud Queenslander Ben Cutting has no qualms about playing BBL cricket for a New South Wales club following his controversial departure from the Brisbane Heat.

Cutting, who turns 34 this month, has found a new lease of life since moving to the Sydney Thunder this season after almost a decade with the Heat.

“It’s been awesome,” the all-rounder said.

“It’s something very different to what I’m used to and I’ve definitely enjoyed the change.

“They’re a great bunch of guys and it’s a `good bloke’ policy here, which makes it a lot easier, particularly when you’re in bubble life 24/7.”

Cutting’s exit from the Heat was less than ideal after falling out with Brisbane captain Chris Lynn.

The pair exchanged words when the Thunder beat the Heat last month, but there seemed less tension when Brisbane gained revenge on Cutting’s team earlier this week at the Gabba.

“It was disappointing. I was hoping there’d more of the same. I enjoy that sort of stuff but they were very friendly,” said Cutting, who added he had no problems playing for a team from NSW.

“That’s the nature of franchise cricket anywhere in the world these days.

“You probably don’t get as much movement in the BBL as you do in other T20 tournaments because guys are still so set in their home states and their home teams.

“My partner and I own property in Sydney where she spends half of her time, so it’s a second home for both of us.”

Despite the loss to the Heat, Cutting was confident the Thunder – who have won five of their seven matches – could hit back against the Hobart Hurricanes on Thursday night at Optus Stadium.

“If you said at the start of the tournament we’d be five wins and two losses at this stage, we’d have taken that for sure,” he said.

|”You’re going to have those games like we did the other night during the course of a 14-game season. We’re not too worried.

“We were a bit short with the bat the other night and we didn’t bowl that great either.”

Fellow Thunder all-rounder Daniel Sams will miss Thursday night’s match after being concussed against the Heat when struck in the helmet while batting.

Thunder coach Shane Bond said: “We’ve been conservative with all of our players when they’ve been injured, and I think we’ve benefited from that.

“I think you need to be more concerned by head knocks, and we won’t be playing Dan in this match.”



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NBA 2021: 76ers Vs Wizards, wild game, Bradley Beal 60, loss, Ben Simmons, Steven Adams, triple-double


The Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards have put on a show in their NBA clash but not even a franchise record was enough for a win.

It’s not often in the NBA when a player can explode with 60 points in a brilliant individual performance — and even rarer when it’s not enough to win the game.

That happened in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 141-136 win over the Washington Wizards as Bradley Beal hit exactly 60 but still lost the game.

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The individual performance saw Beal tie Gilbert Arenas’ franchise record set on December 17 2006 while the move to give Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons perimeter shooters has paid off.

Danny Green hit five from eight from three point range and Embiid and Tobias Harris hit three each, but Seth Curry hit six from seven as the 76ers shot 62.1 per cent from outside the arc.

But it was Beal’s game as he piled on 57 points in the first three quarters.

Matisse Thybulle was on the star as he was restricted to just three points in the fourth quarter and came up with a key stop.

Despite Ben Simmons being seen as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, he stayed on Russell Westbrook with Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said Simmons was doing what he needed to do.

“I guess after 60 we probably could’ve made the change,” he said. “We liked what Ben was able to do as a roamer with Westbrook. We thought he could get a lot of easy baskets.”

Westbrook even left the game with 26 seconds left with the Wizards new star reportedly dislocating his finger.

Philadelphia led 82-67 at the main break it appeared as though former NBA star Kendrick Perkins could have jinxed the side when he tweeted at halftime as the Wizards came back to pull level at 131-all with four minutes left.

The Wizards were 21 points down at one point.

But after that, Embiid hit eight straight points to close it out.

“They pay me to take over the game,” Embiid said. “They pay me to dominate. That’s my job.

“I always give credit to my teammates. [But] I finished.”

Embiid finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, five assists three steals and three blocks, while Simmons had 17 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, as well as two steals.

Despite his game, Beal was frustrated by the loss.

“I’m pissed off,” Beal said. “I’m mad. I don’t count (them) … Any of my career highs, they’ve been in losses. So I don’t give a damn. You can throw it right out the window with the other two or three I’ve had.

“I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win, whatever that looks like. We came up a little bit short tonight.”

KIWI’S STATEMENT NOT ENOUGH

The Oklahoma City Thunder got the better of Steven Adams and the New Orleans Pelicans this afternoon, but the Kiwi big man had a silver lining in the form of a career-first achievement.

Adams finished the 111-110 loss with a triple-double, scoring 10 points to go with 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Coming into the game, Adams’ career high in assists was six – a number he set while playing for Oklahoma City last season.

It’s the latest in a string of strong performances for Adams since joining the Pelicans this year.

While the season is only eight games deep, Adams has made his mark on his new team across the floor, shooting at a career-best 65 per cent success rate from the field.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said it wasn’t hard to see how much of a difference the 27-year-old is making on the team.

“If you look at our on-court and off-court numbers and our plus-minus, he’s been carrying us all year,” Van Gundy said.

“If Steven’s on the court we’re a really good team; if Steven’s off the court, we’re not. It’s because the guy plays [hard] every possession, and that’s what we need to get everybody doing.”

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76ers Vs Wizards, wild game, Bradley Beal 60, loss, Ben Simmons, Steven Adams, triple-double


It’s not often in the NBA when a player can explode with 60 points in a brilliant individual performance — and even rarer when it’s not enough to win the game.

That happened in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 141-136 win over the Washington Wizards as Bradley Beal hit exactly 60 but still lost the game.

Watch Live coverage every week of the NBA Regular Season with ESPN on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >

The individual performance saw Beal tie Gilbert Arenas’ franchise record set on December 17 2006 while the move to give Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons perimeter shooters has paid off.

Danny Green hit five from eight from three point range and Embiid and Tobias Harris hit three each, but Seth Curry hit six from seven as the 76ers shot 62.1 per cent from outside the arc.

But it was Beal’s game as he piled on 57 points in the first three quarters.

Matisse Thybulle was on the star as he was restricted to just three points in the fourth quarter and came up with a key stop.

Despite Ben Simmons being seen as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, he stayed on Russell Westbrook with Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said Simmons was doing what he needed to do.

“I guess after 60 we probably could’ve made the change,” he said. “We liked what Ben was able to do as a roamer with Westbrook. We thought he could get a lot of easy baskets.”

Westbrook even left the game with 26 seconds left with the Wizards new star reportedly dislocating his finger.

Philadelphia led 82-67 at the main break it appeared as though former NBA star Kendrick Perkins could have jinxed the side when he tweeted at halftime as the Wizards came back to pull level at 131-all with four minutes left.

The Wizards were 21 points down at one point.

But after that, Embiid hit eight straight points to close it out.

“They pay me to take over the game,” Embiid said. “They pay me to dominate. That’s my job.

“I always give credit to my teammates. [But] I finished.”

Embiid finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, five assists three steals and three blocks, while Simmons had 17 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, as well as two steals.

Despite his game, Beal was frustrated by the loss.

“I’m pissed off,” Beal said. “I’m mad. I don’t count (them) … Any of my career highs, they’ve been in losses. So I don’t give a damn. You can throw it right out the window with the other two or three I’ve had.

“I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win, whatever that looks like. We came up a little bit short tonight.”

KIWI’S STATEMENT NOT ENOUGH

The Oklahoma City Thunder got the better of Steven Adams and the New Orleans Pelicans this afternoon, but the Kiwi big man had a silver lining in the form of a career-first achievement.

Adams finished the 111-110 loss with a triple-double, scoring 10 points to go with 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Coming into the game, Adams’ career high in assists was six – a number he set while playing for Oklahoma City last season.

It’s the latest in a string of strong performances for Adams since joining the Pelicans this year.

While the season is only eight games deep, Adams has made his mark on his new team across the floor, shooting at a career-best 65 per cent success rate from the field.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said it wasn’t hard to see how much of a difference the 27-year-old is making on the team.

“If you look at our on-court and off-court numbers and our plus-minus, he’s been carrying us all year,” Van Gundy said.

“If Steven’s on the court we’re a really good team; if Steven’s off the court, we’re not. It’s because the guy plays [hard] every possession, and that’s what we need to get everybody doing.”

— New Zealand Herald



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NRL 2021 Transfers: Gareth Widdop, Warrington Wolves, Sydney Roosters, Ben Barba to Super League


WIDDOP’S CHANCE AT NRL COMEBACK DASHED

Gareth Widdop’s hopes of returning to the NRL this season appear to be over after the playmaker returned to the UK.

Widdop’s representatives had reportedly been trying to secure an NRL comeback to be closer to family.

He would have needed to take a pay cut though and The Daily Telegraph reports he cut his asking price to $300,000 with several NRL clubs, including the Sydney Roosters, interested.

Round 1

In fact, the Telegraph reports that Roosters supremo Nick Politis had a part in discussions to try bring Widdop to the tricolours.

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