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

Orford signs with Raiders

By Crystal Ja 10/01/2011 04:09:10 PM Comments (0)

On injury leave from his English club, Matt Orford was at Brookvale Oval in mid-2010 when the Raiders stole a surprise win over Manly that turned around their season.

Watching on the sidelines, the Dally M-winning halfback decided there and then to turn his back on the Super League and make a return to Australia for good.

"The first game I went to (when I was in Australia) was Manly-Canberra," the former Sea Eagle said.

"Obviously to sort of catch up with old (Manly teammates), but as soon as I saw that game, I knew straight away what I wanted to do.

"I wanted to come back to the NRL."

In a nice twist of fate, and a great deal of legal wrangling, Orford has finally ended up with the Canberra squad, even though technically he is still waiting for release from Bradford.

Having purportedly wanted $200,000 for the pleasure, a deal is now all but assured, and there are hopes a formal one or two-year contract will be signed by the end of the week.

Orford starts training with the squad on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old said there was no doubt in his mind he would eventually make it back to the game.

"There were frustrating times, but overall these things kind of take time, they're all going to work out," he said.

"Maybe if I was a few years younger, I might have been pulling my hair out, but I've settled back."

Orford said the lure of the NRL was always in the back of his mind - that and his "unfinished business".

"Once you have a taste ... I went through it with Manly, having a taste of the finals and winning a grand final, you can't get enough."

He sees the Raiders, with their youthful line-up, as having great potential and the opportunity to be in Canberra - also three hours from his family in Sydney - "lit my eyes up".

The club is exultant with their latest acquisition, which adds to their already impressive list of off-season spoils, including Blake Ferguson and Orford's ex-Melbourne teammate Brett White.

Raiders coach David Furner said it had been a long time since Canberra signed three marquee players.

Orford will be a welcome addition to Canberra, which has been on the hunt for an experience playmaker since Terry Campese was struck down with a knee injury last September.

Orford thinks two veterans can work side by side.

"Hopefully (Campese's return) will be sooner rather than later," he said.

"I'm sure we're going to help each other's game."

Orford said he was confident his body will hold up to the rigours of professional football despite his year off the field.

"I'm never one to sort of sit down and laze around too much ... so I was always active.

"I've got no doubt whatsoever that I'll be fine, fitting straight back in."

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