Mortimer stars for Sharks in NRL return
He was heralded as one of the main candidates to replace Michael Ennis, and Daniel Mortimer showed on Saturday night just why the Sharks were so keen to bring him back to Sydney with the 28-year-old laying on a try in the 78th-minute to clinch a 24-22 win for the defending premiers over the Wests Tigers.
The former Eels, Roosters and Titans utility finally made his club debut on Saturday having spent most of the first 15 rounds of the season on the sidelines after he suffered a knee injury playing for the Newtown Jets in the Intrust Super Premiership.
It didn't take long for him to make an impression with Mortimer taking the game by the scruff of the neck after replacing No.9 Jayden Brailey in the 48th minute.
Mortimer looked lively out of dummy-half and saved his best for last when he sent a grubber kick through for a flying Jayson Bukuya to score two minutes from full-time in what turned out to be the match-winning play.
"I saw Jayson Bukuya giving me the eye to put the kick through so I quickly looked the other way and then came down the shortside, backed myself to put the kick in and I'm just glad it paid off," Mortimer told NRL.com.
While the win itself was satisfying, just being back on the field was a massive relief for a player who hadn't featured in an NRL game since Round 7, 2016.
"I did my MCL (medial collateral ligament) in Round 2 and I missed about eight weeks. It hasn't gone perfectly to plan so it definitely felt good to get the win with the boys tonight," he said.
"It feels nice to be back because I haven't had the best run with injuries lately. My last game was over a year ago when I ruptured my hamstring playing for the Titans. You realise how much you miss it when you've been out for a while so it felt great to be back out there."
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said Mortimer had been in his plans throughout the pre-season, only for injury to intervene.
"Unfortunately he did his knee earlier in the year playing second grade," Flanagan said.
"We were always planning on giving Jayden or James Segeyaro… those three players could rotate around, but he did his knee pretty nastily and was out for about eight to 10 weeks.
"He's only been back for a couple of weeks and I thought his experience and the way he brought players onto the ball out of dummy-half for that 30 minute stint was outstanding."