DANIEL Mortimer admits he thought his days at the Sydney Roosters were numbered when the club signed James Maloney, but coach Trent Robinson has given him a new lease of life.
The young playmaker’s career has been something of a stop-start affair since making his debut in 2009 for Parramatta.
His form midway through that season was a major factor in the Eels’ magical march to the grand final and they fought tooth and nail to keep him after Canterbury tried to tempt him to the club his father Peter and uncles Steve and Chris served with such distinction.
However, things turned sour at Parramatta as Mortimer, an Orange CYMS junior, struggled with form and confidence and was granted an early release at the end of the 2011 season to link up with the Roosters.
In his first campaign under Brian Smith, the 23-year-old spent more time with NSW Cup side Newtown than in the NRL, skippering the Jets to the lower-grade premiership.
And when it was announced Maloney, a player who began his junior days with SJS-CYMS, was coming across from the Warriors last year, Mortimer admits he feared the worst and was tempted by the prospect of moving on again.
“There was some interest from a couple of clubs and I would have certainly considered it,” Mortimer said.
“But Trent came in and told me straight away that he wanted me to stay and he had faith in me, which was great to hear.”
Mortimer has performed well in both of the Roosters’ trial matches, scoring tries in each.
He accepts Mitchell Pearce and Maloney will be the starting halves this year, but his goal is to develop into a top-quality utility off the bench.
“I’ve played most of my career in the halves and not much at hooker, but I’ve enjoyed it,” he said.
“I’ve got a few digs in the face from diving in low out of dummy-half, but that’s all good.
“The utility spot is between myself and Nafe Seluini, who is a good player, but he was injured for the Tigers game last Saturday so hopefully that gives me the jump on him.
“Guys like Kurt Gidley and Cooper Cronk have played utility at Origin and Test level and it’s an important position in the modern-day game.
“I am off contract this year so I know I need to take my chance when it comes. By having that versatility, I know it can only help me in the long run.”