By Roy Masters July 12, 2005 Almost anyone watching one of the world's most sought-after players sit in his team's dressing-room on Saturday night, a soft, satisfied look on his mud-seared face, would have concluded, "This kid isn't going to any other club". His smile broadened when he linked arms with his teammates in a circle in the small cell-like room and sang the club song. But Storm halfback Matt Orford, one of the highest-priced players on the market, may be forced to go elsewhere. The Storm have had an offer of approximately $420,000 on the table for Orford for three months. It is understood South Sydney have offered Orford $500,000, but the 27-year-old was keen to know whether the Rabbitohs, second-last on the ladder, would sign NSW star Braith Anasta and others. Souths' Queensland Origin back-rower Ashley Harrison has subsequently joined the Roosters and Orford's teammate Steve Bell has turned his back on Souths to sign with Manly for $760,000 over three years. AdvertisementAdvertisement Manly are also interested in Orford, but it is unlikely they would have enough room under their salary cap to sign him for more than the $250,000 a year they gave their halfback and captain, Michael Monaghan. When Monaghan finally did re-sign with the Sea Eagles - after the offer was withdrawn while they chased Orford with $420,000 - he was warned that he might be required to play in another position. But should Manly snare Orford and Monaghan move to hooker next year, the possibility remains that subterfuge and secrecy have undermined the club since Monagahan's defiant man-of-the-match performance against Sydney Roosters in early June. The Sea Eagles have won only one and lost four since, all against teams below them on the ladder. If Orford decides he wants to stay at Melbourne, his offer will be significantly reduced. During the period Orford has vacillated and his agent George Mimis has manipulated his options, the Storm have signed the Roosters' Queensland Origin forward Michael Crocker and have tabled a substantial offer to his Maroons teammate, Ben Ross from Penrith. Ross is also a Mimis client, as are two other Storm players, captain Robbie Kearns and second-rower Glen Turner. If Orford goes to Souths and earns Mimis the standard seven per cent of the deal, the money the Storm have offered Ross would stop them re-signing Kearns and Turner. The Storm have improved the contract of second-rower Ryan Hoffman by $30,000 and raised the terms of brilliant teenage centre Greg Inglis from $40,000 to $120,000. If Orford insists on staying at the Storm for the money that was initially offered, the club would be forced to offload players on existing contracts. Who can buy them under the NRL salary cap? Would Penrith be happy to release Ross if a salary cap of $3.25 million didn't apply? Mimis has told the Storm the Sharks have offered Kearns, a Cronulla junior, $300,000 a season. However, the Sharks deny this. Kearns has a long-term agreement with the Storm that allows him to revert to a managerial role once the highly regarded captain finishes playing. However, should he insist on returning to the field in 2006 his playing fee would be assessable under the salary cap. Over the weeks of haggling with Orford, the Storm have been monitoring the progress of five-eighth Cooper Cronk, filling in for the injured Scott Hill. Cronk is an ideal replacement for Orford - tough, resilient, strong and, if slightly slower than Orford, only by a fraction. One part of the equation was solved yesterday, with Anasta heading to the Roosters and his Origin coach Ricky Stuart. If Orford leaves that warm, if telephone-box-sized, Storm room for the cold and cavernous Telstra Stadium (Souths' new home), he might be joined by Ross and Turner. Although Ross has told Melbourne he wants to join them, if he and Orford leave would there be money to re-sign Kearns? Mimis insists he is treating all his clients as individuals. "They are all separate in terms of their business models," he says. "The whole picture is a function of many variables." The agent adds that his commission is not a factor, saying: "There is no umbrella thrown across them all."