Mortimer embraces life as middle man
He came to the Gold Coast to establish himself as an NRL No.7 but Daniel Mortimer is now ready to accept that his greatest value to the Titans lies at hooker.
Mortimer has been named to start at hooker for the Titans against the Wests Tigers on Friday night after starting in the position for the first time in his career in last Saturday's 22-16 loss to the Rabbitohs.
This will be the first time in his 108-game career to date that Mortimer has played an NRL game in the No.9 jersey and - after an encouraging display six days ago - is setting his sights on making it a permanent move.
Having started his career in the halves with the Eels, Mortimer was used as a dummy-half off the bench in 26 of his 27 games for the Roosters in their 2013 premiership-winning season but always had aspirations of commanding an NRL team from halfback.
Those aspirations have not completely faded away but he does see an opportunity to develop into a quality hooker at the Titans with Beau Falloon and Matt Srama both currently sidelined through injury.
"Nine, whether you play good or bad is related to your effort that you apply and I don't believe I'm short on effort at all whereas in the halves you can try your absolute butt off but still have a shocker," said Mortimer. "I am enjoying nine and I could be a very good nine but in saying that, I still love the halves.
"Neil [Titans coach Neil Henry] knows that I'm not scared and that I'll put my body in front of any big fella to stop him getting a roll on or getting over the try-line but the main thing was that he wanted me to bring enthusiasm to the team.
"When I came off the bench, that was the main thing and that was my role at the Roosters as well, to come on and try and lift the side and lift the talk.
"I was pretty knackered out there [against the Rabbitohs] but I thought I was quite enthusiastic and I got around the field all right so that's what he wants me to bring and I feel I did a reasonable job on the weekend."
Having been lured to the Titans midway through last year with the promise of a spot at halfback, Mortimer partnered Aidan Sezer in the halves for the first three games of the this season before suffering a wrist injury in Round 3 against the Knights.
With an extended period on the sidelines Mortimer set about adding weight to a slight frame that had dropped to just 79 kilograms in the wake of a gruelling pre-season, weight that will now hold him in good stead with an increased defensive workload in the middle.
Mortimer was forced to make 23 tackles in his first 25-minute stint against South Sydney but said adding weight in his layoff was not with a view to a permanent shift to hooker.
"I ended up putting on a couple of kilos which is what I wanted," said the son of Bulldogs legend Peter a week out from his 26th birthday.
"I was starting the season my lightest weight for a number of years. The hot summer might have taken it out of me and we obviously had a very hard pre-season so I was down to around 79 [kilograms] for a game or two which was the lightest I've been for a couple of years.
"One of the things we spoke about when I did get injured was to use it as an opportunity to work and develop a few things which I wanted. One was to get that weight back."
An opportunity for Mortimer to work on his body, skill and speed also offered young halfback Kane Elgey the chance to make his NRL debut.
The 21-year-old guided the Titans to four wins from his first five starts and Mortimer knew as soon as he injured his wrist early in the game against Newcastle that winning back his coveted No.7 jersey would be a difficult assignment.
"I knew when I got injured it was quite severe and I knew it was going to be a battle to get the seven jersey back," he said. "I've seen Kane all through pre-season, he's a very good young player.
"I've had many ups and downs in my career so far and that was another little hiccup but I used that time to work on my skill and if I was asked to slot back in there I would feel very confident in myself in doing it.
"At the moment my role is to play the hooker role which I'm actually enjoying quite a bit."