Mortimer ready for friendly fire
As if John Cartwright's week couldn't get any worse, the man calling the shots for the Titans on Monday night has forgotten the names of the calls of the team he was playing with just two months ago.
Daniel Mortimer has revealed that in his first outing with the Titans he accidentally used the names of the Roosters plays instead of his new team but after six games for the Gold Coast has had to go back to his cheat sheets to reacquaint himself with the calls of his former team.
It's been a baptism of fire for Mortimer who answered a mid-season SOS to relocate to the Titans when first-choice halves Aidan Sezer and Albert Kelly were both sidelined. After pairings with Maurice Blair and Brad Takairangi he gets his first opportunity to strike up a partnership with Sezer against his former club on Monday night.
But if he's going to help out his teammates with some inside knowledge he's going to have to go back and check his notes.
"I sat down on the first day with 'Carty' and went through the structures of the team and the plays and I took a book in and jotted all the plays down and the only way I could remember them was saying, 'This is what the Roosters call it' with an arrow to what the Titans call it," Mortimer said.
"A lot of the plays are similar so that was how I got them down pat but it was hard the first week. I did drop a few of the Roosters calls in accidentally; the boys looked at me a bit confused but after two-and-a-half years playing at the Roosters it was a hard habit to shake.
"But I've got it down pat now and to be honest, I tried to think of what the Roosters calls were the other day and I couldn't remember, so that's a good thing I guess."
The 25-year-old was granted a release from the remainder of his contract at the Roosters on June 17 and five days later turned out at halfback against the Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium, a game the home side lost 19-18.
The Titans have gone 2-4 since Mortimer joined the club and with makeshift five-eighths Blair and Takairangi outside him, has had to shoulder the majority of the kicking duties in general play. It's a level of responsibility he hasn't previously had at NRL level but he insists it's a pressure he is willing to embrace.
"It is a lot of responsibility and you do feel the pressure, definitely, and it's something I guess I missed at the Roosters coming off the bench," he said.
"Doing the team warm-up you don't really feel like you're into the game until you actually step on the field so I've been enjoying getting those nerves again at the start of a game.
"I love the Roosters but I was missing that, being in the thick of the action and having that responsibility. That's what I was after and I definitely got that here.
"I've had to really lead the team around the paddock in terms of the calls and kicking game and stuff and I've been partnered with three different halves now so I'm starting to know how the other boys are feeling with injuries through the whole club because the halves jerseys seem to be cursed."
Since Sezer suffered his pectoral injury in Round 10 the Titans have been only able to force seven goal-line dropouts from nine games and Mortimer is excited at being able to share the load of general-play kicking with such an accomplished left-footer.
"The kicking pressures have been on me a lot and the teams have definitely been pressuring me as the kicker so it will be nice to have that other option of a really good kicker in Aidan," said Mortimer, who played every game in the Roosters' premiership run in 2013.
"I've had a fair few good chats with Aidan and he loves his footy and he's definitely passionate about this team so that's something that we share and hopefully we can work on.
"I've been looking forward to playing with him since I've been up here. He's a great young player, a tough little bugger and he's the type of player that you'd like to play in the halves with.
"He's got good chat about him and he obviously knows a lot of the boys that he's got some combinations with so it will be nice to work on my own combination with him."
As for his former teammates, there are a couple of things Mortimer can confidently predict.
"The boys have promised to give me a bit of stick so I'm looking forward to that," he said.
"Jared [Waerea]-Hargreaves is always a bit cheeky and he can definitely dish out the punishment, he's a big fella, and I'll be on the same edge as Jimmy Maloney so I'm sure there'll be a few words spoken there."