Orford’s return to the NRL looking slim

It was the partnership that took them to the grand final in 2009, and it could very well be the partnership that leads them into the 2011 season, as the Eels officially terminate discussions with Matt Orford.

Jeff Robson and Daniel Mortimer were two of the unsung heroes of the Eels miracle run in 2009, which saw them make the grand final on the back of a large number of wins on the trot.

Now, after coming off a 2010 season most Eels players and fans will want to forget, it looks like it’ll be happening all over again, with Mortimer and Robson the favourites to start in the halves for the Parramatta Eels in 2011.

On the subject of Orford, the Eels have long been considered the favourites along with Canberra to sign the aging halfback, who is desperate to return to the NRL after just 1 year in the ESL with Bradford.

Parramatta however, have officially pulled themselves out of the race, and have terminated any discussions or contract talks with Orford, his manager and the Bradford Bulls.

The move by the Eels, now means that the Canberra Raiders are the only team committed to making a play for Orford, in light of their lack of experienced halves due to Terry Campese’s injury.

In a move that some may not have expected, it is believed that Matt Orford may also be considering a year off in 2011, in an attempt to play for the incoming franchise, the Central Coast Bears in 2012.

Such a move seems unlikely though, given Orford’s age, and the money that he would be demanding.

Eels coach Stephen Kearney has already spoken to both Mortimer and Robson, informing them that the halves positions are theirs if they want them.

Former Canterbury great and Mortimer’s father Peter, has said that it’s now up to his son to repay the faith shown by Kearney, and to make the most of the opportunity.

“Time will tell,” Peter said of his son’s ability to shine next season.

“I haven’t spoken to Stephen Kearney, but everyone I’ve spoken to speaks very highly of him.

“So if he’s made the decision to go with Daniel and Jeff, then they’re going to have to perform up to his expectations.

“The ball is in both the boys’ court now.

“I can see Daniel’s attitude just in the last four weeks has been a little bit more driven.”

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