ORANGE native Daniel Mortimer probably hasn’t had his career compared to a popular children’s toy of the mid-nineties too often.
However, leading into the World Club Challenge on Saturday night, in which Mortimer’s Sydney Roosters take on the Wigan Warriors, reflection on the 24-year-old’s short NRL career shows it has had more ups and downs than a yo-yo.
Mortimer went from Parramatta’s rookie sensation five-eighth in 2009, in which he helped his team to a grand final appearance, to being out on the proverbial rugby league scrap heap just 12 months later.
After a switch to the Sydney Roosters in an attempt to earn consistent first grade appearances Mortimer was left languishing in NSW Cup, directing traffic for Newtown.
It took a meeting with then newly-appointed Roosters coach Trent Robinson to show Mortimer he was still wanted at the club.
“When I asked for a release from the Roosters Trent said no,” Mortimer said.
“The [Gold Coast] Titans had offered me a contract for last season , and I guess it made me think Trent must have had plans for me by not letting me go. Obviously I wouldn’t change the decision for the world now.”
Since then, Mortimer has restarted his NRL career, playing every game in 2013. Last season also netted him an NRL premiership ring.
“There’s been plenty of hard work since leaving Parramatta,” he said.
“That loss [in the 2009 grand final] really hurt, so it was huge to get the win last year. Trent showed a lot of faith in me and I hope I’ve repaid him with my form, and the help I’ve given the team.”
Mortimer said he was looking forward to the challenge Wigan brings.
“Ninety per cent of our team haven’t been in this position before,” he said.
“Pre-season has been short, but it’s been good. Everyone has been ripping in and getting involved. We’re looking strong already. This is the game that’s been on our minds for a while, to really cap off what we did last season, and also kick start our 2014 campaign.
“Personally, if I can play my role and help the side out I’ll be happy.”
The Roosters are yet to name their full team, but Mortimer revealed he will play his familiar utility role of the bench.
The Roosters take on Wigan on Saturday night at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. Kick off is 8pm.