Knights interested in Orford

The Newcastle Knights are set to sign Matt Orford from the Melbourne Storm and are now virtually resigned to the fact that they have lost superstar halfback Andrew Johns.

Johns is likely to announce a dramatic switch to rugby union within the next seven days, ending a long and successful career with rugby league.

In a bizarre set of circumstances, the Knights are also set to lose halfback Kurt Gidley, despite the youngster re-signing with the club last week. Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph reports that Gidley signed the deal on the proviso that Johns would be at the club next season.

It?s an odd clause to have considering Gidley would have most likely been the Knights first choice halfback if Johns chose to leave the club.

Last week Gidley said he was extremely happy to be staying at Newcastle.

?I?ve grown up in this football club and alongside some very close friends, including my brother Matthew, so it?s fair to say I?m very comfortable with the decision,? Gidley said following his re-signing.

The Knights are believed to be in talks with Orford?s manager about the possibility of the star half replacing Johns in the number seven jersey.

While the Knights will be interested in signing him for an extended period, Orford is unlikely to accept an offer longer than one season as he has expressed interest in playing for the Central Coast if they are accepted into the premiership for the 2006 NRL season.

The Knights have confirmed interest in Orford, but have informed his manager that their offer will only stand if Johns announces he is leaving the club.

It?s understood a top level meeting will be held at NRL headquarters today in an attempt to keep Johns, who is a hero to thousands of children playing the game weekly, in the game.

Last month, Johns declared he was not interested in joining the 15-a-side code and would not leave rugby league, a decision he has now gone back on.