Daniel Mortimer’s versatility has been a huge asset for Gold Coast this season – and it has never been more valuable after ‘The curse of the number nines’ continued yesterday with Kierran Moseley joining fellow hookers Matt Srama (ankle) and Beau Falloon (wrist) on the sidelines.
The media ligament injury suffered by Moseley against the Bulldogs leaves just Mortimer to fill in the vacant number nine jersey … as The last man standing.
Although originally selected at halfback and wearing the No. 7 jersey, Mortimer started and played 66 minutes at dummy half and he may need to grow accustomed to handling the role for 80 minutes.
While a daunting task to most, there may be no better man at the Titans to play a full game each week, with Mortimer challenging Vice-captain William Zillman since he arrived midway through last season as fittest at the club.
Mortimer said while it was challenging carrying the load after Moseley went down, he enjoyed the test of playing big minutes against the club at which his father Peter and uncles Steve and Chris won multiple premierships.
“The first 20-25 minutes of the game was probably the hardest I’ve played all year, I was a bit worried playing the second half but Kierran took that little stint before he got injured and I think that really helped me out and helped me finish the game,” Mortimer said.
“I thought we competed well in the second half and I actually got through it a lot better than the first half, I settled into the game and it was really good to play big minutes actually.”
Back-rower Ben Ridge said despite the big workload expected of Mortimer, his form should give Titans fans and coaching staff plenty of confidence going into the clash against the Warriors.
“He’s been going really well for us and I think he’ll get a lot of confidence out of that game, especially with the forward pack the Bulldogs have got; they’re a massive side,” said Ridge.
“I’m sure he has a lot of confidence going into next week against the Warriors who are a pretty similar side.
“He’s the last man standing, so hopefully he can keep fit and we can get a couple more of our hookers back soon and release the pressure off Morts, but I think he’ll have a lot of confidence after the last few weeks.”
Although originally named at halfback, Mortimer said the shift to hooker wasn’t a surprise, with Coach Neil Henry hinting at the move early in the week to help combat the big Canterbury forward pack.
“They probably have the biggest forward pack in the competition, so it was always going to be a big task, especially when we were missing Nate [Myles] and Dave [Taylor] and a few other big boys, but the forwards held in and did a great job.”
Coming up against the NRL’s biggest pack [and the fourth biggest forward pack of all time, behind Dogs teams earlier this season) the smaller Titans side needed to counter-attack the Dogs’ size with their best weapon – speed.
Mortimer certainly played his part, having a hand in two of his side’s four tries and confirming his hard-working reputation with 40 tackles, beaten on the tackle count only by Ryan James (41).
“Our outside backs really came in and did their thing, they made a few big plays which resulted in us getting the win,” Mortimer said.
“If our forwards go toe to toe and take it out of the other pack, then that really gives us a chance to get a quick play the balls and create some space for guys like Meady (David Mead), Jimmy (James Roberts) and Brad Tighe to slip through.”
With two wins in a row and a spot in the top eight, the Titans’ are looking to build on their momentum when they come up against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday. The task will be just as large, with the Warriors forward pack possessing size reminiscent of the big Bulldog forwards. Mortimer says the Titans will have to be on their game if they want to make it three wins in a row.
“They (Warriors) were really unlucky to lose against the Chooks,” Mortimer said.
“It was probably good for us to play the Bulldogs, I think the Warriors are quite similar in they have big men and they run hard, so we’re going to have to take out the exact same mentality if we’re going to win.”
The Gold Coast Titans play the New Zealand Warriors 5.30pm this Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium.