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Furner denies Orford on last chance

Steve Jancetic And Matt Sadler 08/04/2011 04:24:14 PM Comments (0)

Canberra coach David Furner denies star recruit Matt Orford is on his last chance in the Raiders' No.7 jumper, claiming instead that the pressure is on the entire squad to breathe life back into their faltering NRL campaign.

Orford, who sat out Canberra's only win of the season back in round one, has copped the brunt of criticism for the Raiders' slide ahead of their clash against an equally desperate Penrith on Saturday night.

The Raiders this week engaged the services of retired great Andrew Johns to work with all the club's playmakers - including Orford - with Furner claiming the 32-year-old halfback wasn't the only one who had to lift his game.

"The players are not going out there to purposely come up with errors ... frustration is as a coach knowing what the team's capable of and putting us in that position," Furner said.

"Everyone's got to take responsibility about getting the team forward, starting with the back three.

"Penrith have a really good kicking game ... they need to get us forward first and then we need to get behind the ball and get the team forward after that."

Asked about Johns' work with Orford, Furner said: "(He worked) with all the halves, the club's halves. It wasn't just Matt.

"I think developing the young halves at an early age is important, so he worked with all the halves."

Furner gave a blunt "no" when questioned as to whether the Panthers game was Orford's final chance before being dropped, while co-captain David Shillington sympathised with the veteran No.7.

"He's been getting hammered pretty hard in the media saying he's probably not quite up to it, but he's got the support of the team and the coaching staff here," Shillington said.

"We'll stick with him and help him get back on his feet. He only started training with us the Wednesday before his debut a few weeks ago.

"He had a couple of big operations in the off-season, so he needs a bit more time to find his feet."

Orford may not get a better chance than at Centrebet Stadium, with the Panthers themselves under pressure to perform, particularly at home.

While halfback Luke Walsh has been named to return from a shoulder injury, the Panthers will be without Luke Lewis (wrist) and Lachlan Coote (groin), with NSW Origin winger Michael Gordon moving to fullback.

Masada Iosefa and Adrian Purtell are the two players expected to drop off the six-man bench named earlier this week, but there could also be another late change with giant Kiwi prop Sam McKendry some chance of making a surprise return from a hip injury.

The Raiders will be without centre Joel Thompson as he recovers after losing more than a litre of blood following a broken nose and a cut mouth last weekend.

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