Parramatta pin-up Daniel Mortimer has spoken of the timely meeting with coach Stephen Kearney that restored his confidence and allowed him to rediscover his best form. Mortimer and Jeff Robson hardly put a foot wrong in the halves in guiding the Eels to a 30-0 thumping of Penrith on Saturday night. And Mortimer said his promising trial form at five-eighth had a lot to do with his chat with Kearney in November. Kearney, who said Mortimer reminded him of a young Cooper Cronk when he first arrived at Melbourne Storm, guaranteed the 21-year-old and Robson first crack in the halves – despite the club’s ongoing talks with Matt Orford at the time. Mortimer struggled with expectation in 2010, but now looms as a strike weapon for the Eels. “From day one Steve sat me and Robbo down and, even with talk Orford was coming, he said he had total faith in both of us and we’d be starting the year (in the halves),” Mortimer said. “That gave both of us confidence and we could go through the pre-season with that off our minds and have the chance to really work on smaller things. “My one goal this year is to lead the team around and get my confidence back up. “I didn’t think so at the time, but towards the end of last year I was down on confidence, and that was half my battle. “It’s always tough the second year and I think it can have a spiral affect when you’re not playing well. “All I want is a few good performances and to get that confidence back.” Mortimer’s positive outlook has been detected by his Eels teammates, including Jarryd Hayne. “I think Morts has realised he’s a major part of this team,” Hayne said. “I think Steve has been in his ear and made him open his eyes and realise that. “The five-eighth is an essential part, so is halfback, and when those boys are on song, the team really fires.” Robson recalled the same meeting with Kearney and, like Mortimer, said the faith shown in him had allowed him to not stress about hanging on to the No.7 jumper. Kearney said Mortimer was prepared to work around the clock to improve his game, the way Cronk did when he first arrived at the Storm as a utility player.

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