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Re: Round 9 - Raiders V Manly @ Brookvale

Posted By: RNA
Reply #15 May 07, 2011, 11:51:27 AM
There's just no magic answer

Matt Orford's decision to sign with Canberra was partially driven by a desire to avoid the Sydney rugby league fishbowl.

But since he first pulled on a bright green jersey he has been unable to escape the limelight.

Having joined the club after prematurely halting a stint at Bradford, ''Ox'' was branded as the saviour.

Fans assumed he would fit seamlessly into the void left by the injured Terry Campese.

By his own admission his form has been patchy in Canberra's disastrous 1-7 start to the year.

But neither Orford, nor the club itself, expected the 2008 Dally M medallist to provide a quick fix.

Thanks to shoulder and groin surgery, the 33-year-old entered the competition with no pre-season under his belt.

His Raiders debut in round two was his first match in 10 months.

Then there's the pressure of replacing Campese, a player Canberra's attack has revolved around for years.

Those facts haven't prevented plenty of column inches being devoted to Orford's form.

But the only opinions that matter to him are those of his coach and teammates.

''I know it [pressure] is part and parcel of the job,'' Orford said.

''I learned as a young fella the more papers you read, or negative things you hear, it affected you.

''I've been there and done it now, and I've got the self-belief I can still play the game. I've always had pressure and critics my whole career it doesn't bother me.''

Many experts predicted the Raiders would be a top-four side after their incredible finish to 2010.

Orford insists the team's failure to meet those expectations isn't a by-product of the players believing their own off-season hype.

''Probably 80per cent of this game is mental, 20per cent of it physical,'' Orford said. ''Other sides have reviewed and prepared so much better for us. We haven't actually stood up and realised we need to play a grinding, mentally tough, gritty game.''

A positive in Canberra's crushing 49-12 loss to Wests Tigers last week was the strong signs from Orford he is beginning to find his niche.

He set up fullback Josh Dugan's two tries and is benefiting from finally being able to train regularly with Canberra's other playmakers.

''It was a disruptive pre-season with injury, and the stability of having Tonguey [hooker and skipper Alan Tongue] back there and getting some training under my belt with Duges is so important because things start to click,'' Orford said.

''I'm starting to feel more comfortable in the structure and feel I'm finding my feet now.''

The Raiders will head to Orford's old stomping ground Brookvale on Monday desperate to avoid equalling the club's worst losing streak of eight, set in the 1980s.

Orford knows from experience the true character of a team is exposed in times of crisis.

''Going through these tough times as a young group, it builds resolve and character,'' he said.

''It does take its toll mentally and physically. You can give up, or you can just get in there and as a group be honest and accountable for your role.

''If you do that, at some point we will turn the corner and we will become a team with mental toughness. That's something we definitely need to work on and improve, and be very much accountable individually.''

Orford's mental resolve was tested to its limit after Canberra's heartbreaking round four loss to Gold Coast.

With the Raiders leading by six with seconds left on the clock, Orford knocked on from a scrum feed close to his own line.

The Titans scored on the siren, went on to win in golden point extra-time, and a potentially season-reviving win was ripped from Canberra's grasp.

Orford was devastated. But he knew kicking stones wasn't the right example to set his young teammates.

''It definitely cost the team a win, and that was very important for us,'' Orford said.

''It stuck with me for two or three days, laying awake staring at the ceiling for hours going over different scenarios.

''You're going to make mistakes. It's what you do next that's the most important thing.''

Raiders prop David Shillington recalls how Orford was on the receiving end of a verbal tirade during Canberra's heavy loss at Penrith the next week.

''There was a bloke in a Raiders jersey leaning over the fence absolutely tearing strips off Ox,'' Shillington said.

''I don't know what that guy does for a job, but I can't imagine it would be anything to a high level because he would understand how hard it is to get to this level and maintain it. It's disappointing when you see that stuff.''

However, Orford is adamant that Raiders supporter is in the minority.

''I get a lot of nice people come up and say 'welcome to the club, you've got all our support, hang in there we're right behind you','' he said.

After five success-filled seasons at Melbourne, Orford shifted to the northern beaches of Manly in 2006.

He recalls how it wasn't until the second year of his Sea Eagles stint that the structures and culture they were building began to click.

Orford is unsure whether it will take two weeks or two months for the Green Machine to launch into overdrive. The only thing he's certain of is if the club displays the right patience and attitude, a resurgence is inevitable.

Just ask Manly, whose faith in its long-term focus resulted in winning the 2008 premiership.

''It took us [Manly] a good three years to build the combinations and the culture within the club and instil the disciplined, grinding game that Dessie [Hasler, Manly coach] likes,'' Orford said.

''I've said to the guys down here it doesn't just happen overnight, but if you work on it every single day and do whatever it takes for your mate, that's what makes you a great football team.''

Source: The Canberra Times

Re: Round 9 - Raiders V Manly @ Brookvale

Posted By: Archie
Reply #16 May 07, 2011, 12:02:19 PM
Thought our guys in the City V Country game went well last night. Dugan was clearly the better fullback V Hayne. It has to be his time for Origin this year if he is 100%, he is the best in NSW by a long long way.

Re: Round 9 - Raiders V Manly @ Brookvale

Posted By: RNA
Reply #17 May 16, 2011, 05:07:51 PM
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