I'll do the business - Ox From today's SMH For Matt Orford, only a grand final win will silence doubters, writes Andrew Webster. A fortnight ago, Russell Fairfax was interviewing Matt Orford for Fox Sports after a training session at Narrabeen when he dropped a loaded question. "And do you think you'll be the No.1 halfback going into the semis?" Fairfax asked. Kaboom! The question detonated. Orford spat out a few words and walked away. They're all feisty, these little big men. Challenge their credentials in getting the business done at the business end of the season and they grow a few inches taller. When Fairfax asked Orford - captain, playmaker, marquee signing on Lotto-like numbers - if he's going to shimmer when it matters, you know he's actually asking if Michael Monaghan - former captain, playmaker, marquee signing for Warrington- deserves the job. They've since reconciled but the incident affirms the more weighty question that we ponder, the Sea Eagles readily dismiss and the man himself cannot escape: Do you, Matthew Orford, have a premiership in you?"Obviously, I've never taken a team past the second week of the semis," Orford says, beating you to another loaded question. So here's another one. Ready. Aim ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â¦ Are you a big-game player or what? "I'd like to think so," he replies, half-grinning. "There have been a few times through the last couple of years when we've had a few big games for Manly, when I thought I've played my best footy." Phew. It doesn't escape him, too. He knows he's won only three finals matches from the eight he's played since 2003. He knows he's been able to pencil in his Mad Monday in September to the second. He knows the Sea Eagles were ingloriously bundled out last year with defeats against Newcastle and St George Illawarra. But then comes a rider. The comment which brings the doubts flooding back. "In the finals, as a halfback, it really comes down to how your forwards perform," he says. "If they're winning the contest, it gives me the time and space to do what I want to do. "You need the whole team going in the same direction. You can't rely on one bloke - not anymore. An Andrew Johns, maybe ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â¦" Thanks, scoop. This is the type of get-out clause that hardly engenders hope within the Sea Eagles brethren. There's no disputing Orford is a wonderful player. But the great players - the ones who etch their names to our memory banks for eternity - turn in the wonderful performances in the matches that matter. His detractors have said it so many times about Orford that it borders on cliche: he's a frontrunner who won't win his side a match in the final 10 minutes, with it all on the line. In the big games? Forget it. "If I'm not in the game, I'm not enjoying the game," he insists, meekly. "I've got guys like Toovs ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â¦ if he doesn't see you are in the game, he'll give you a kick up the butt. It only takes one thing being said to me out there to get me going." The Herald asked Geoff Toovey - the Sea Eagles' last premiership-winning halfback and captain and now omnipresent on-field trainer - if this was the case and he said: "I don't rev him up at all. He's self-motivated enough." Is Orford the man to bring Manly their first premiership since he did? "Absolutely," Toovey replies. Yet the jury is still hung on Orford and subtext is strewn all over these finals for him. He left the Storm at the end of 2005 after a frenetic bidding war involving the Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs and salivating Super League clubs. Eyebrows are still cocked about the deal that brought him to the peninsula. Manly were adamant it was a four-year, $450,000-a-season contract. Other reports made it seem like something out of the Sale of the Century giftshop: $690,000 a year including cars and plush flats. Salary cap cop Ian Schubert found nothing. Privately, the Storm say they'd gone cold on Orford early in those negotiations having already put their chips on Cooper Cronk. The Storm have been minor premiers for the past two seasons and made the 2006 grand final with Cronk in control. But remember: Orford has this season elevated Manly into the team most likely to stop them. This little big man keeps his cards close to his chest, but he drops the guard for a nanosecond. "I do have unfinished business," he says, looking you in the eyes. "These opportunities don't come around too often. You get one or two chances in your lifetime to win a comp. I know I don't have too many chances left." And then Matt Orford stands up and walks away.