No Titans guarantees for Mortimer
Gold Coast recruit Daniel Mortimer marked his second game in Titans colours with a win, helping snap a six-game losing streak, but says he's not sure if he'll hold his spot when five-eighth Aidan Sezer returns from injury late in the season.
Mortimer joined the Titans from the Roosters shortly before the mid-season June 30 transfer deadline, with the Queensland club suffering an injury-induced halves crisis and Mortimer struggling for game time behind premiership-winning pairing Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney.
Sezer has been ruled out until late in the season with a pec injury, while first choice halfback Albert Kelly has missed a number of games with various leg injuries, most recently a calf strain. Back-up Beau Henry has also been ruled out for the season with a knee injury, opening the door for Mortimer's recruitment.
The former Eels and Rooster played well in his club debut – a narrow 19-18 loss to the Dragons in Round 15 – then following the Round 16 bye helped his side to an upset 14-10 win over the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium in Round 17.
"It's been good – the staff have been great and the boys have been good, it's just a matter of getting all the calls down pat but as for the shape – it's all very similar, it's footy, it's based on the same kind of stuff," Mortimer told NRL.com.
"It's just getting the calls and knowing the boys' games and the combinations to work but we got the win [against the Rabbitohs] and that was the main thing."
He said the early signs of his combination with halfback Albert Kelly, who came off the bench against the Rabbitohs, were positive. The pair combined for the side's first try of the night, to David Mead, around five minutes after Kelly came on.
"He's a very good little player – we threw some stuff at him and thankfully some of it came off," Mortimer said.
"We'll continue to work on it and I guess everything takes care of itself when you're winning games. If we lose that game on the buzzer we're probably not talking about how good the combinations were. The best thing was just getting the win and the rest will come."
Mortimer said the most pleasing thing about the Rabbitohs win was the Titans' defence, conceding just one try, which came from a kick.
"They had a lot of attacking opportunities [last week] but our defence was outstanding. If we can keep that standard from now on I think we'll make a good push for the finals.
"We held them to one try and that was off a kick that ricocheted, which is saying a lot against a team like Souths that have great attacking weapons all over the field. That was the most impressive thing but we can't be laid back and think it's going to happen again, we have to earn the right to do that again – that's the standard that we have to set."
Despite some early positive signs, Mortimer – who has signed on for two more years after 2014 – said he'd been given no guarantees about what happens to his position once Sezer and Kelly are both available.
"We won't know until [Sezer] comes back – it will be up to the way we play," Mortimer said.
"They [Sezer and Kelly] are both great footballers; I think the main thing Carty [coach John Cartwright] wanted was competition for those spots, that's what I'm here to do.
"If I can hold one spot I'll be very thankful, if not I'll keep working just as hard. I came up here for an opportunity and I've got it the last few weeks. Unfortunately this year I didn't get that chance in the halves at the Roosters and that's where I feel most at home.
"I'm up here for this year and two more; I'm up here for a little while so it'll be good to settle in and get to know these boys and hopefully force my way into the side somewhere."
Cartwright said after the Rabbitohs game he was happy with how Mortimer and Kelly complemented each other, although he didn't indicate what would happen when Sezer was available.
"They certainly complement each other; you've got a guy there [Mortimer] who organises very well and he'll play very structured then Albert can come up with that play not many guys can do," Cartwright said.
"They looked good. They haven't really trained together yet, Albert's been injured for the last six to eight weeks and has struggled to get on the training field. The more time they can put in off the field the better they're going to be."
Mortimer said he had started to settle in to Gold Coast life, and was currently staying with his partner's family since they were from the area while he looks for something more permanent – joking he considered setting up stall further south so as not to have to call Queensland home.
"Yeah it was pretty tough – I was almost considering moving to Tweed so I didn't have to live in Queensland!" he laughed.
"But nah it's all good, my partner's family is from up there; that was very handy so I'm staying with her family for the next month or two until we get settled and find a place where we want to live in the area, so that was very helpful. But there's much worse places I could be than the Gold Coast, that's for sure."