Storm stars back Orford's temperament - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm stars back Orford's temperament

By Guy Hand 29/09/2008 07:53:45 PM Comments (0)

Manly halfback Matt Orford's former Melbourne teammates have dismissed suggestions he goes missing in big games.

Orford looms as Manly's gamebreaker in Sunday's NRL grand final against his old club - a rematch of last season's premiership decider in which the Storm trounced the Sea Eagles.

Since then Orford has been saddled with the tag of being unable to handle the big stage - strange considering he has never got the chance to play State of Origin football to test himself at the ultimate level.

But he won support from an unlikely source - the ex-teammates that will try to quell his influence at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

"He was very unlucky not to play for NSW, he's the Dally M player of the year, he's got his team to two consecutive grand finals, he's a quality player," Storm back Matt Geyer said.

"If Matty was to play a big game here, I suppose it would quieten a few of his critics.

"I don't subscribe to that theory (he can't perform in big matches).

"We'd like to see him in the NSW team to show he can do it in the big-time."

Orford's former understudy at the Storm, Cooper Cronk, said the ex-Melbourne halfback had proved himself the NRL's best player this season.

"Both teams are playing outstanding footy, and they've got the best player in the competition," Cronk said.

"Rightly so he's been given the Dally M medal because he's been outstanding all year.

"And he's a good fella to boot as well. He's doing some wonderful things out there at Manly."

With prop Brett White cleared of elbowing Ben Ross during last weekend's preliminary final and Jeremy Smith returning from suspension, the Storm face a difficult selection dilemma ahead of the grand final.

Rookie Aiden Tolman is the man most likely to drop out of the preliminary final squad, with Russell Aitken and Scott Anderson tipped to keep their spots for Sunday's match.

White's escape is a minor win for the Storm after being battered by the judiciary and NRL in the previous seven days.

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith was suspended for a grapple tackle, forcing him out of the grand final.

And coach Craig Bellamy and chief executive Brian Waldron were fined $50,000 for questioning the integrity of the NRL and its judiciary over the Smith suspension.

Cronk said there was no siege mentality at the Storm despite their run-ins with officialdom, but he backed Bellamy's right to support his players.

"One thing about Craig is he is very passionate and committed to the cause," Cronk said.

"He's always backing us as a playing group or as an individual and we do the same for Craig. He's our coach and we're right behind him every inch of the way."

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