Not another Orford Thread?

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From the Manly Daily:


THE Melbourne Storm are desperately stitching together a unique last-minute package that threatens to bury Manly's bid for star halfback Matt Orford.

The Manly Daily understands Mel bourne are working on a deal that would involve Orford becoming the face of rugby league in the Victorian capital.

The 27-year-old would take on an ambassadorial role, spreading the rugby league word in AFL-mad Victoria, and becoming the club's highest-paid player.

There would also be career opportunities for Orford in Melbourne after his football career finished.

The Storm have struggled for recognition in Melbourne, with their profile dropping noticeably since the departure of skipper Glenn Lazarus following the club's 1999 premiership win.

The NRL are desperate for the Storm franchise to succeed in Australia's second biggest city, with Orford seen as critical to the fight.

Souths, Manly and Melbourne are all chasing Orford's signature.

``Melbourne's always been a strong chance to retain him and that hasn't changed,'' Orford's manager, George Mimis, said last night.

``They're right on the radar along with the other clubs.''

Asked if a decision was imminent, Mimis said:

``I wish it was over so I could get my life back.

``I'm getting 50 calls from journos a day.

``We don't have a time line on it but hopefully we'll have something later this week.''

The Sea Eagles, who have signed Orford's teammate Steve Bell, can't compete with Melbourne's offer.

Privately the Sea Eagles are concerned Melbourne's package has edged the Storm in front.

``We're waiting on a phone call - it's wait and see,'' Manly CEO Pat Wilson said.

``There is no time pressure on it.

``If it takes two weeks for the outcome it takes two weeks.

``If it doesn't happen then life moves on.''

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