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Mortimer predicts great days for Eels

By Ian McCullough 04/06/2009 06:01:32 PM Comments (0)

NSW great Steve Mortimer says his nephew Daniel Mortimer has what it takes to be the long-term solution to Parramatta's halfback problems.

The 19-year-old made an encouraging debut at five-eighth in the Eels' 13-10 defeat to Cronulla last Saturday and Bulldogs legend Steve, who was among the crowd along with Daniel's father Peter, was pleased with what he saw.

"He has had a taste of the NRL now and I am sure that when he gets more experience he will be beneficial for the Eels playing around the ruck at halfback," Mortimer told AAP.

"He showed no nerves whatsoever but his biggest asset is his ability to create momentum around the ruck ... I thought he was too far away from the ruck ... and I have no doubt for the Eels to benefit most from his skills he needs to get the ball more from dummy-half.

"He has this ability to create momentum for a team, and by that I mean he can pull guys through gaps and that is very hard to coach ... you are either born with that or you're not, it can't be coached."

Mortimer said he had also been impressed by the performances of Kris Keating, who is currently sidelined with a broken jaw, and believes the prospect of him and Daniel in the halves is an exciting one for Eels fans.

"I have watched them in the '20s with Daniel at halfback and young Keating at five-eighth and thought what a terrific combination that is ... it was absolutely lethal," he said.

"I think Daniel Anderson did the right thing giving Daniel a taste at five-eighth and I reckon long-term if you are good enough you are old enough."

Eels coach Anderson was more measured in his analysis of Mortimer's debut.

"The step up in speed from age group into first grade is pretty dramatic and I thought he did solidly," he told AAP.

"He never looked lost out there .. I thought he was always where we would like him to be.

"He is very coachable and listens to the senior players and that is a good sign."

Anderson admitted he will play Keating and Mortimer together at some stage but said it's too early to say whether it will click in the NRL.

"I am hopeful that Daniel and Kris can play together and we can investigate the prospect of them forming a partnership," he said.

"I like both players and I think they have a future in first grade and I hope that will be our pairing, long-term."

Anderson expected Mortimer to be targeted by an in-form Newcastle side.

"This Sunday he will be up against a Brian Smith-coached side," Anderson said.

"Brian is a very shrewd tactician and he isolates players as good as anyone in the game.

"The likelihood is Daniel will get targeted and we will now have to see how he copes with that.

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