Mortimer happy 'calling the shots' at No.7

This week’s special guest on NRL.com is Parramatta Eels halfback, Daniel Mortimer.

As we count down the days to Friday night’s massive blockbuster between the Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs, Daniel will give fans an insight into how the Parramatta team is preparing for the clash, as well as how the side turned their season around after their slow start.

The live chat will begin at 12:30pm AEST (2:30pm NZ) this Thursday, April 29, 2010.

To pre-register for the live chat, please click here.


Parramatta halfback Daniel Mortimer has credited his recent move to the No.7 jumper for a sudden reversal of fortunes which has last year’s grand finalists finally starting to find some form.

Mortimer was one of a number of Eels who struggled to find his feet at the start of the season as the premiership heavyweights slumped to just one win from their opening five games.

Coach Daniel Anderson responded with a major shake-up to his key positions, shifting Jeff Robson to hooker, Mortimer to halfback and bringing Kris Keating in at five-eighth – the change sparking a two-game winning streak that has breathed new life into their title campaign.

Mortimer said he was reveling in his new role after Anderson told him to adopt more responsibility on the field.

“I’ve got a little bit more dominance in the direction of the team now,” Mortimer told NRL.com.

“I’ve got a lot of the calls now.

“Daniel asked me to take a more dominant role in the team and it’s been good for me – I enjoy being an important part of the team.

“I think the key is being confident in myself at halfback because everything relies on the halves and ball-players being confident in steering the side around the park.”

While Mortimer said his move closer in didn’t change too much in terms of playmaking, he wasn’t surprised to see improved performances from a number of individuals in recent weeks.

The change came about after weeks of soul-searching in which Anderson accused his players of failing to work together.

“There is no doubt that we’re all playing as individuals, trying to do our individual thing rather than playing as a team,” Mortimer said.

“And I think we were all a little bit nervous starting the comp as well… Everyone gets a bit nervous when there is so much expectation.

“But we had a few team meetings and spoke about the fact that you need to play as a team and it’s only when you do that individuals can start to shine.”

Asked if the players had simply expected to pick up where they left off in 2009, Mortimer said: “I think it definitely could have been [the case].

“Last year we went on a dream run and we probably expected that to continue again this year.

“Obviously in a competition this close you can’t afford to do that. Luckily we woke up to that pretty early. But there is still a lot of improvement in us.

“We’ve been pretty happy with our forwards the past two weeks, but our combinations still need some work.”

Big things are expected of Mortimer, who recently re-signed with the Eels despite keen interest from this week’s opponents Canterbury – the club that made father Peter and uncles Steve and Chris household names.

In his debut season last year he played a key role in Parramatta’s dramatic surge to the grand final and all eyes will again be on him when he turns out against the Bulldogs this Friday – a clash he admits always looms large in the calendar.

“Both teams always bring their A-game because it’s one we all love to play in,” he said.

But Mortimer admitted the match-up had been overshadowed to some extent by the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal that has engulfed the NRL.

“It’s shocking… hard to take in,” he said.

“I mean, it’s frustrating that we lose players like Kevin Kingston and they get to keep theirs.

“But at the end of the day last year was last year and there is nothing that can be done about it now.

“It’s passed.

“Obviously they’ve copped a big punishment and it’s going to be hard for them – I really feel for the players down there.

“But they’re a strong club and I’m sure they will bounce back.”