Matt Orford’s unflattering stint with the Canberra Raiders is all but over, with the club in talks to release the Dally M medallist from the final two years of his contract – a move that could mean the end of his NRL career.
The Raiders will play their final home game of the season against Penrith tonight in a match that will double as the farewell game for captain Alan Tongue, but it is unclear whether Orford will be there, as he is believed to have had groin surgery in Sydney yesterday.
This continues an awful season for the 31-year-old halfback, who guided Manly to a premiership in 2008 and himself to a Dally M Medal as the best player in the game.
It is believed talks are at a delicate stage between the club and Orford’s manager George Mimis, the sticking point being a payout figure for his deal, which expires at the end of 2013. Any amount is likely to be carried by the Raiders in their salary cap for both seasons.
If Orford parts company as expected, he will find it difficult to line up another place in the NRL next season, given his poor form with the Raiders. His best hope might have been with former Melbourne Storm mentor Michael Maguire at the South Sydney Rabbitohs next year, but it is understood the Rabbitohs are not interested.
Orford was signed to a three-year contract by the Raiders at the start of the year from English Super League club Bradford, and his acquisition was seen as a coup for the club, as the Parramatta Eels was also in the hunt for an accomplished halfback.
Making the situation harder for Orford is that the Raiders already have injured captain and five-eighth Terry Campese on a long-term contract, while rookie halfback Sam Williams signed a new two-year deal this season and Josh McCrone has another year to go on his deal.