Orford signs with Bradford Bulls - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Orford signs with Bradford Bulls

16/11/2009 04:51:55 PM Comments (0)

Manly are set to put faith in their youth rather than recruit a new halfback to fill the gaping hole left by outgoing NRL premiership-winning halfback Matt Orford.

The club announced on Monday that Orford, who led them to the 2008 premiership and won the Dally M medal the same year, would leave the club to join Super League side Bradford Bulls, where he will reportedly take up a deal worth $1.5 million over three seasons.

Orford, 31, had been mulling over a two-year contract extension with the Sea Eagles but opted to take the opportunity to fill a long-held ambition to play in England, insisting there was "nothing sinister" in his decision to leave.

Orford's departure leaves the Sea Eagles' halves ranks looking decidedly thin for 2010 but the club insists their talented youngsters, Kiwi international Kieran Foran, 19, and Queensland Cup player of the year Trent Hodkinson, 21, are ready to step up.

Sea Eagles chairman Scott Penn did not totally discount any new signings, including former Sea Eagles halfback Michael Monaghan who is playing with Warrington, but indicated the club would be looking to blood a new first grade halfback just as Parramatta had with Daniel Mortimer and the Sydney Roosters with Mitchell Pearce.

"We've got Kieran who certainly started to step up at the end of last year and we've got Trent Hodkinson who is absolutely an up and comer, so we've got the talent," Penn said.

"Arguably this probably forces our hand a little but in terms of giving them an opportunity a little earlier than expected.

"But we've certainly found out over the last couple of years with Daniel Mortimer and Mitchell Pearce there are some talented kids coming through and they've stepped up.

"We're expecting our guys to do the same."

Penn denied Orford's departure would free up significant salary cap room for a new signings, claiming the club would need the space to retain the bulk of their first team in the coming seasons.

"We've got some significant challenges coming up from a salary cap perspective next year," Penn said.

"Any potential room in the cap, we're probably going to need it to be honest.

"Having said that, you never say never, but I think probably at this stage we'll back our existing guys.

"We weren't necessarily expecting to be in this position, we really had plans probably for Ox to be there in 2010, but as one door closes another one opens."

Penn insisted the club and Orford were parting on good terms, saying the former Northern Eagle and Melbourne Storm No.7 would always be "part of the family" at Brookvale, while coach Des Hasler praised his "consistency, leadership and courage."

Orford, who will link up with former Sea Eagles teammates Steve Menzies, Glenn Hall and Heath L'Estrange at Bradford, said in a statement he loved his time at the club since joining from the Storm in 2006.

"It is a wonderful club with fantastic fans. I will miss living and playing in the area but a football career is short and I want to satisfy a long held goal to play in England for a couple of seasons," he said.

"I wish Manly all the success in the world. They have some good young halfback prospects that deserve an opportunity in the NRL."

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