Attack on Eels is 'laughable': Mortimer

Struggling Eels halfback Daniel Mortimer has described the drama surrounding a supposed feud between Jarryd Hayne and coach Daniel Anderson this week as ‘laughable’.<br><br>Hayne was forced to front the media while in NSW camp yesterday to hose down speculation that he wanted to walk out of his multi-million dollar contract with the Eels after Anderson criticised his performance in the post-match press conference following last Saturday’s 10-6 loss to Brisbane.<br><br>But Mortimer insisted there was no problem within the Parramatta camp and promised an improved performance by the side when they travel to Auckland this Sunday – despite the absence of their star fullback.<br><br>“It’s laughable some of the stuff that’s been out there,” Mortimer said. “We’ve had two close losses and all of a sudden it’s ‘Eels in Turmoil’. That’s an absolute joke!<br><br>“We lose two games and people think it’s all over... Have they forgotten what happened last year? It just shows you how short people’s memories are.”<br><br>Asked his thought on Anderson’s comments after the Broncos game, the 21-year-old said he was stunned by the reaction.<br><br>“I didn’t think what he said was bad at all,” Mortimer said. “The fact is that Daniel said the same thing about me, the same thing about a couple of player – and rightly so. We haven’t been at our best.<br>“But we’re just focused on our own goals and we know that we’re the only ones that can turn it around so we don’t worry about anything outside our own dressing rooms.<br><br>“I know that we’ve copped a bit lately but [the speculation] is just a joke. <br><br>“We’re still a very tight-knit group and we’re focused on winning a premiership.”<br><br>Mortimer has been at the heart of Parramatta’s attacking woes in recent weeks but the struggling halfback believes the absence of Hayne this weekend could be just what he needs to rediscover his best form.<br><br>The Eels have scored just two tries in their past 160 minutes of football and face one of the NRL’s toughest road trips when they head across the Tasman to face the in-form Warriors.<br><br>But Mortimer said he was looking forward to taking on a more dominant role with Hayne away on State of Origin duty.<br><br>“I always try to do that,” he said. “I think I had a decent game last time Jarryd was missing against the Sharks… I know we lost but that was one of my personal better games. <br><br>“I’ll definitely have to step up and so will our other key players like ‘Robbo’ (Jeff Robson) because you don’t just replace Haynesy – he’s a great player.<br><br>“We’ve got a few boys out this week but it gives a chance for everyone else to step up and get us back on track. It could be just what we need.”<br><br>The Eels are in desperate need of a win this weekend, having dropped consecutive games against Newcastle and Brisbane to fall two points behind the eighth-placed Sydney Roosters and this weekend’s opponents, the Warriors, who have won three games straight to move ahead of Parramatta into ninth.<br><br>Mortimer said the Eels would need to rediscover a path to the tryline if they are to down the Kiwi side and has spent much of the past week revising their fifth-tackle options.<br><br>“It’s obviously something we needed to work on and that’s what me and the halves have been doing this week,” he said. “We’ll continue to do our best.<br><br>“We’ve changed our structure a little bit this week. Having Jeff Robson back in the halves is good – he’ll add that bit of maturity and has a bit of calmness about him that should allow him to gel in attack. <br>“Hopefully that happens like it did last year. <br><br>“Obviously things haven’t been working out so it was time to try some new things and hopefully they work out.”<br><br><b>Late NRL news:</b><br><br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The Eels will take 19 players to Auckland in the absence of Origin pair Hayne and Tim Mannah and injured prop Justin Poore. The extended squad includes rookies Patrick O’Hanlon, Pele Peletelese and Mitchell Allgood, as well as new signing Manase Manuokafoa.<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Wests Tigers have moved strike centre Chris Lawrence into the halves for tonight’s clash with Brisbane. Lawrence will partner Benji Marshall in the halves as the Tigers look to return to the winner’s circle.<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Lagi Setu is a withdrawal for the Broncos with a knee injury. Ben Te’o, who was originally named in the centres, will move back to the second row with Gerard Beale coming into the backline.<br>