Orford holds spot for desperate Raiders - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Orford holds spot for desperate Raiders

Steve Jancetic 05/04/2011 07:37:46 PM Comments (0)

Canberra veteran Matt Orford has been granted a stay of execution with the badly out of form playmaker given another chance to save his immediate NRL career on Saturday night.

Hopelessly off the pace in his three games since returning from injury and a stint in Super League, Orford will line up in the No.7 jersey against Penrith at Centrebet Stadium looking to revive his and the Raiders' slumping campaign.

Canberra coach David Furner had been under pressure to dump the 30-year-old to the club's feeder side in the Queensland Cup, with rookie Sam Williams continuing to star in the Toyota Cup after a strong NRL debut in round one.

That 40-12 victory remains Canberra's only win of 2011, with some critics suggesting Orford may never make it back to the NRL if he finds himself dumped from the top grade.

Orford's season reached its lowest ebb when he knocked on at a scrum in the dying stages of the game against Gold Coast, his error allowing the Titans to snatch a dramatic golden point win.

While he declined to comment on Orford's position, Furner was more forthcoming on the injury drama surrounding gun fullback Josh Dugan, who has been diagnosed with a nerve injury in his calf that is expected to keep him out for three weeks.

The injury - which first surfaced during the pre-season - limited Dugan to 25 minutes of action in last Saturday night's loss to Gold Coast, with Blake Ferguson to take over in the No.1 jumper against Penrith.

"It needs to be treated with rest and physio," Furner said of Dugan's injury.

"It's been a frustrating period for both Doogs and the team, just to know there's something wrong there and not knowing what it is.

"It's been treated and I think Doogs is a lot happier now that he knows what the problem is and how to fix it."

The Panthers welcome back halfback Luke Walsh, his return from a shoulder injury causing a reshuffle with Kevin Kingston going back to hooker and Mosada Iosefa to an extended bench.

Wests Tigers failed to get any relief on the injury front with Gareth Ellis set to miss another week with his ankle problem, backrow teammate Chris Heighington adamant the side had enough talent to upset South Sydney on Saturday night.

"We've got a good 17 out there, we've got no excuses, we should be winning some games with the 17 we've got," Heighington said.

"Obviously there's some stars out but I'm more that confident that the 17 can do the job."

Compounding the Tigers' problems is the fact the Bunnies have been strengthened by the return of Sam Burgess, though the star Englishman will still have to pass a fitness test later in the week to confirm his availability.

There was no silver lining to Gold Coast's first win of the year with five-eighth Greg Bird accepting a one week ban for striking Orford in Saturday night's golden point win over the Raiders.

Skipper Scott Prince was named to return from a hamstring injury but remains in doubt, with Luke Capewell - who failed to impress when given an opportunity to pin down the No.6 jumper in the opening two rounds of the season - given another crack at five-eighth.

Hooker Nathan Friend returns from a dislocated shoulder for his first game of the year against an unchanged North Queensland side on Friday night.

Steve Matai will also make his 2011 debut when he returns from suspension for Manly's clash with Cronulla on Saturday night, with Jamie Buhrer coming into the second row to replace Anthony Watmough after he was stood down by the club after being charged with urinating in public at the weekend.

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