Saturday’s 13-10 defeat by bottom-of-the-table Cronulla may have been a new low in a disappointing season for Parramatta fans, but the performance of 19-year-old Daniel Mortimer on his NRL debut was at least one positive.
The slightly-built five-eighth, who is the son of Bulldogs legend Peter Mortimer and nephew of former NSW and Kangaroos star Steve Mortimer, looked more than comfortable against the Sharks, but it was not enough to stop Ricky Stuart’s side recording their first win in 10 games.
Eels coach Daniel Anderson was furious with his players after the game, accusing them of lacking “football intelligence” and not following his instructions but spared Mortimer from criticism.
“Morts had a very encouraging debut and I thought he looked threatening but I don’t think we gave him the ball enough,” said Anderson.
The coach also refused to use inexperience as an excuse for the defeat and said he felt his side lost the game due to errors and poor judgements.
“We had enough experience in the forward pack, we just didn’t pay attention to messages that were going out … Blake Ferguson was injured for most of the second half, he was hobbling, but we refused to kick in behind him … we competed as hard as we could defensively and were game but we should never have put ourselves in a position to lose the game,” Anderson said.
Mortimer showed glimpses of a bright future with some intelligent kicking and good handling skills but said the defeat took the gloss off his big night.
“It was disappointing to lose because I was buzzing still from getting the chance to play I was nervous and excited and even during the game I was still taking in that I was playing in the NRL,” he said.
“I had a whole lot of family in for the game, my old man, my uncle Steve, nan and my mum and I am hungry for more chances to play.
“I heard on Wednesday I was playing, I have got a lot mates that came up from Orange for the game to watch and it was a great experience and one I will always remember.”