I know the season is only two weeks old, so this might sound very premature, but I have a strong feeling that Daniel Mortimer will be having a 'second-year syndrome', or will play like this for the first half of the season at least.
I have been thinking about this even before the season started, mainly because he doesn't play a traditonal halves role. A lot of his success last year came from his ability to back up the ball-runner well and how he was able to duck under defenders for line breaks and tries. After watching the Manly game on Sunday he looked average. He was shut down well almost every time he touched the ball by Glenn Stewart, who was too good a defender to let Mortimer slip out of his grasp. His kicking game was also a worry, and never was his strength in his rookie 09' season.
If he wants to be a consistent player, Mortimer needs to change the way he plays. I know that Parramatta will give a lot of the playmaking opportunities to Hayne, which will always limit Mortimer from what he can do. This could have a similar affect on Mortimer as it did on Sandow last year who was instructed to give the ball to the main playmaker, Sutton, about 70% of the time. Mortimer needs to be taking a bigger role in setting up the players around him instead of putting grubber kicks in for himself.
His defense can also be a worry. I know that a half doesn't really need to be the best defender in the side and should worry a lot more about what he does with the ball, but it has become clear that he will be a target for other teams in defense. He made 27 tackles against the Dragons which further shows he has been targeted. His size will always be against him, and he will always miss tackles as would most other halves, but this is just another reason why he may have a very quiet year.
Add in all of the media attention he receives from the footy show and other programmes which is sure to put a lot of pressure on you.
Again, its just speculation and a prediction for what could happen, but if Mortimer doesn't change fast enough, he will become too much of a non-factor for Parramatta. In no way am I predicting his career to go completely downhill or for him to never become a great player for years to come.
Agree or not?