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Pearce incident drives Mortimer north

The opportunity to secure a permanent halfback spot drove Daniel Mortimer to leave the Roosters and join the Gold Coast Titans. Credit: Courtesy Titans Media
If you ever needed further proof of the delicate axis on which the rugby league world turns, consider where we would be right now if Mitchell Pearce had decided to stay home on the night of May 10, 2014.

His eyes wouldn't have been caught by a woman in a yellow dress, he wouldn't have been arrested by police for failure to leave a licensed premises and he would have been the New South Wales halfback for Game One of the Origin Series.

Roosters team-mate James Maloney would have been at Suncorp Stadium on May 28 alongside him in sky blue and Daniel Mortimer would have been called in to the Roosters team to play the Bulldogs in Round 11.

But, as a result of Pearce's actions, Trent Hodkinson is now the king of New South Wales and Mortimer is on the Gold Coast trying to re-establish a career as an NRL halfback.

"I just knew that I wouldn't get that time in the halves," Mortimer said of the consequences of Pearce's actions. 

"I loved my role off the bench but those couple of games in the halves with that Roosters team was what I'd marked down in the diary at the start of the year and was really looking forward to.

"Missing out on that was pretty disappointing."

Mortimer is on track to come straight into a desperate outfit team for Sunday's clash with the Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium as the side tries to arrest a five-game losing streak, 18 months after he first tried to seek a release to head north.

Scott Prince had left the Titans in sudden and dramatic fashion at the end of a 2012 season where Gold Coast and finished ahead of the Roosters on the table and coach John Cartwright was desperate to find a halfback with NRL experience to partner five-eighth Aidan Sezer.

He went after Mortimer, but incoming Roosters coach Trent Robinson refused to let his talented insurance policy leave and the Titans took a chance on Albert Kelly.

Even now, with the Titans' top three options in the halves all out injured, Robinson took some convincing that Mortimer should make an early departure but the 25-year-old is thankful that he eventually relented.

"I met with 'Robbo' and he wasn't too keen on me going this year but we had a bit of a heart-to-heart and he decided to let me chase this opportunity and here I am, two days later," said Mortimer less than 24 hours after arriving on the Gold Coast.

"I definitely wanted to go [in 2012]. I asked him a number of times but he'd just arrived and I didn't really know what was to happen but basically he said, 'I'm the coach and you're under contract. You're my type of player.' So he gave me a lot of raps and put plenty of confidence in myself that I was going to do well there.

"At the end of the day I felt like I missed a good opportunity up here but we did win a grand final that year and that was pretty special so I can't complain too much.

"At first I was filthy that 'Robbo' kept me there but I just saw him as a coach and the way the team was going even early in the year, I was glad that I stayed and I couldn't have scripted it better by playing in and winning a grand final. It's something that I can tick off that a lot of great players that I've played with before haven't been able to do."

A competitor by nature who should thrive in a side that leads the league in offloads, if you omit his first six games in the top grade (where the Eels went 2-4 in 2009), Mortimer boasts a winning percentage of 63.64 per cent.

If he brings that type of success to the Titans and they win seven of their remaining 11 matches – to go with their second bye in Round 16 – Gold Coast will finish the regular season on 30 points, enough to play semi-final football every year since 2000.

"I've taken more notice [of the Titans[ the last few weeks and they've had some tough losses but you can see the effort is there," Mortimer said.

"They were leading the comp a few weeks ago and I don't know what it is the last five weeks but I don't think it has anything to do with attitude because the way they're playing is still very promising and hopefully I can add to that."
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