Melbourne Storm has dismissed rumours it enlisted the help of News Limited chairman Lachlan Murdoch to retain off-contract halfback Matt Orford.
But Melbourne chief executive Brian Waldron admitted that was all he could clear up over the on-going contract negotiations with the Storm playmaker that look set to drag on for another day.
Speculation was rife that Murdoch would be used as Melbourne's trump card to keep the off-contract No.7 who is also being wooed by a cashed-up South Sydney and favourite Manly.
But Waldron said tongues were wagging after the Storm boss arrived at a News Ltd meeting in Sydney following Murdoch's surprise appearance in the Melbourne dressing sheds at Brisbane on Sunday.
"It's a very nice idea (of enlisting Murdoch's help) but the reality is that News Ltd's involvement with us is pretty obvious but beyond that there is nothing more they can do other than encouraging us to spend our money wisely," Waldron said.
"We wouldn't be asking them to assist us any outside the cap or any other manner.
"What happened was Lachlan was in the (Melbourne) rooms yesterday (after the loss to Brisbane) and I was in Sydney today and he was there at the same time.
"Someone has said something to someone and it has escalated into a myth."
Waldron said he would again speak to Orford's manager George Mimis but did not expect an announcement from the halfback until at least Tuesday.
Mimis said Orford was "reasonably close" to a decision but admitted "there was no timeline".
"The negotiations are kind of like a rolling ball at the moment," he said.
"All three clubs are still in the mix absolutely."
But Mimis said Orford was "swaying towards one club".
"The offers (from three clubs) are reasonably similar...there's not a huge difference."
Asked if Orford had ruled out leaving Melbourne, Mimis said: "Not at all".
Waldron said Melbourne had not given up on retaining Orford.
"The reality is that he could have told us months ago that he was going, he chose not to which indicates he has always wanted to stay," he said.
"He always said when he had all the information that he would come back to us and give us a chance to come to a settlement to keep him here but we won't know more for a couple of days.
"We are very hopeful, but if he doesn't (stay) I would understand - however, we would like to know sooner rather than later."
Manly executive director Paul Cummings said: "I haven't heard anything at this particular stage, your guess is as good as mine - hopefully it will be fixed up in the next day or so."
Orford's close friend and recent Manly signing Steve Bell of Melbourne was also none the wiser.
"He hasn't said anything yet. I know he has a few options and that it is weighing on his mind but he has to make the right decision for him," he said.
"Of course I would like to see him there at Manly. He's a great mate of mine and also a great player.
"I would like to remind him of the benefits of the north coast but I've let him make up his own mind."
In other signing news, Cronulla - still buzzing after clinching Queensland prop Ben Ross - hopes to learn if it has successfully snapped up former Newcastle flyer Darren Albert this week.
The man who scored the 1997 premiership-winning try for Newcastle is seeking a release from the remaining two years of his contract at English club St Helens.
"He's indicated that he wants to come home so we are hoping to find out something this week," Sharks general manager Steve Rogers said.