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Mortimer says he's not easily distracted

By Josh Jerga 23/03/2010 02:06:18 PM Comments (0)

It's good news for Parramatta that rising NRL star Daniel Mortimer feels as if he's still playing park footy back in Orange.

Many young players before Mortimer have succumbed to what's often called second-year syndrome.

They've crumbled under the weight of hype and expectation after a standout rookie season, or been distracted by the often troublesome combination of fame, money and big city temptations.

But 20-year-old Mortimer's focus remains resolute.

"Being a country boy I'm not really into the big city life," Mortimer told AAP.

"I'd rather just have a few quiet beers and a barbecue.

"I have a lot of brothers and friends who I'd rather just hang out with and so it's not so much about going out at all."

Instead he spends most of his spare time with his girlfriend of nine months, Rachael Murphy.

Two weeks ago, Mortimer signed a new two-year deal with the Parramatta Eels reportedly worth $500,000, knocking back a big offer from Canterbury, where his father Peter and uncles Steve and Chris played in the club's golden era and his surname is worshipped.

It was a tough decision for the young playmaker but he's glad he can now concentrate on trying to improve on his much-praised debut season.

"There is added pressure this year," Mortimer admitted.

"I have always got people to talk to if I do have any troubles but I don't feel the hype at all.

"It still feels the same as if I was playing park footy back at Orange."

Mortimer hasn't been caught up by the media spotlight wary of the fact it can turn on you pretty quickly.

If his head begins to grow by even a millimetre his four brothers - Michael, 26; James, 24; Rob, 16 and Tim, 23, who play lower grade for the Eels - will surely level him out.

"I don't really think I have got too far ahead of myself yet," he said.

"But they'll be the first to bring you back to earth if you do."

During the off-season Mortimer relished getting back to the open space of his family's vineyard in Orange and let his mind wander far away from football.

He spent time with mates who still know him as the same kid running around for the Orange CYMS with only dreams of an NRL career.

But now Mortimer's back into the early morning training sessions and the hard slog to nab his ultimate goal of an NRL premiership.

He is working on improving every aspect of his game as you "never get perfect at anything".

Although his name will inevitably be thrown up in representative circles, he won't let any hype distract him.

"Maybe that will come, maybe it won't," he said.

"But I'm just happy enjoying myself playing first grade as it is."

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