The Orford truth that drove Ross to Sharks By Andrew Webster July 17, 2005 The Sun-Herald http://www.smh.com.au/news/league/the-orford-truth-that-drove-ross-to-sharks/2005/07/16/1121455938794.html Queensland Origin forward Ben Ross signed a four-year deal with Cronulla yesterday - and then immediately gave the strongest indication yet that Melbourne are unlikely to re-sign halfback Matt Orford. Amid a day of wild speculation about his and Orford's futures, Ross agreed to play with the Sharks from next year for $400,000 a season after Melbourne refused to match the massive offer. Ross said he signed with the Sharks because he wanted to be part of the first side to win a premiership with the Sutherland Shire-based team. But he all but revealed that Orford is bound for either Manly or Souths when he said that serious doubts about whether the Storm playmaker would re-sign with Melbourne had forced him to shun their offer. Ross and Orford are both managed by player agent George Mimis, and it's understood that the race for the Storm halfback will end on Tuesday, putting five months of speculation about his future to rest. "I was very, very close to going to the Storm," Ross said. "But I didn't know what Orford was doing. In some ways it made the decision easier - but it also was the chance to help the club [Cronulla] win its first premiership. That would be pretty special." Storm chief executive Brian Waldron did not know about the deal when contacted after Ross signed with the Sharks, but was clearly upset at missing out. He was adamant that Ross was not worth $400,000 a season, while some chief executives The Sun-Herald spoke to were startled at the Sharks' ability to sign Ross, who was on about $240,000 a season at Penrith.