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Daniel Mortimer’s plan to run Tigers ragged
- Steve Gee
- From: The Daily Telegraph
- March 26, 2010 12:00AM
PARRAMATTA playmaker Daniel Mortimer says he is ready to take on more responsibility running the Eels attack, declaring he will not be intimidated by tonight’s head-to-head battle with Tigers superstar Benji Marshall.
And in an ominous warning to Tim Sheens’ men, the 20-year-old five-eighth yesterday vowed he and his teammates were ready to shake the rustiness that has seen the Eels struggle in the opening two rounds against St George Illawarra and Manly.
Speaking after a final training run at Parramatta Stadium yesterday, Mortimer told The Daily Telegraph Daniel Anderson wanted him to become more involved in running the side.
The Eels coach wants to shift the onus from Jarryd Hayne, and the young playmaker is relishing the chance to take on more responsibility.
Mortimer admitted he had yet to match the form of 2009 and had to lift his game.
“I would like to improve a little bit for sure,” he said.
"This week I’ve been given a bit bigger role, to get more involved, so I’m really looking forward to it. I think the first two weeks I’ve been a bit rusty, but so have all of our players.
“We know we are going to have to improve a lot if we’re going to give it a shake this year.”
Although they will rarely come together at the SFS tonight, the showdown between Mortimer and Marshall shapes as a pivotal match-up as the Eels and Tigers face off for the first time since Parramatta ended Wests’ 2009 finals hopes with a 26-18 victory in round 21.
The two playmakers bring vastly different traits to the table with the premiership and World Cup-winning Marshall renowned for his bag of tricks and fancy footwork.
Mortimer was still at school, watching from the family farm at Orange aged 15, when the Tigers linchpin led the club to the 2005 premiership.
And even after helping steer the Eels to last year’s grand final in his rookie year, he still gets nervous reliving the match.
A statistical analysis of the pair since Mortimer debuted in round 12 last year shows the different strengths of the rival number sixes, with Marshall dominant when it comes to line breaks assists (30-3) and try assists (19-7). The Parramatta pivot has the edge running the ball with 16 line breaks to 10, while the pair are even in tries (10-9), tackle busts (52-50) and their kicking games.
Mortimer said he was excited about facing the Kiwi international.
"You really want to lift in big games like this, especially against someone like him.
“He will play a massive role in their side so if we are going to have any chance we have to try and shutdown him.”
Champion five-eighths Brett Kenny and Laurie Daley were both eagerly awaiting the showdown last night. The premiership-winning former Australian and NSW pivots said that Mortimer must play his own game.
“He just has to keep doing what he was doing last year,” Daley said.
"His game will just evolve over time.
“I have already noticed he is taking the ball to the line more and passing short, which he didn’t really do last year so they’re things that happen as he gets more comfortable and mature in that role.”