Newtown Jets fans are a loyal, passionate bunch – we know that.
It takes loyalty to stick by a club which hasn’t played in the top grade since 1983; it takes passion to turn that club’s game-day experience into one of the best in Australian sport. When a Newtown grand final-winning captain returns to wear the royal blue, therefore, you can bet that hardy fan base is going to make some noise about it.
Daniel Mortimer has had an up-and-down Rugby League career: his 126 NRL games have included a grand final loss in his debut year, before he won the competition with the Roosters in 2013. It was 12 months earlier – and one division lower – that the utility playmaker had perhaps his most memorable achievement, however, captaining the Roosters’ then-feeder side Newtown to a drought-breaking NSW Cup premiership. Reuniting with his former club after three years on the Gold Coast, the 27-year-old knows there’s something special about the blue baggers.
“Yeah, it’s a great club to play for,” Mortimer tells NSWRL.com.au after the Jets’ narrow Round 1 victory in Blacktown. “It’s good to see all the loyal fans that travel all the way out here.
“It’s a very good place to be.”
When Mortimer raised the club’s prized silverware in 2012, he did so alongside veteran coach Greg Matterson, who remains in charge today. The Jets are now aligned with the Cronulla Sharks, but Mortimer is pleased to see some familiar faces from his last stint at the club.
“It’s the same people, the supporters are the same, a lot of the staff are the same,” Mortimer says. “It’s humbling, coming back to a setting where people are there purely for the passion of it.
“Obviously you’d rather be playing NRL, but Jets is a nice club to come to if you’re not.”
As the 2016 preliminary finalists secured the 16-14 win over new team the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, Mortimer showed he still has what it takes to make an impact; a 50-metre line-break in the dying stages might not have been able to see the halfback cross for the game-winning try, but it led to a penalty which earned those decisive two points.
“I thought I was in!” Mortimer says. “But it was a great tackle. Lucky enough, the next tackle we earned a penalty and stole the game from there.
“It was a tough game, they’re a very tough side but I think we kept our pressure up. We couldn’t get over the line but we got enough pressure to kick a couple of goals and get there.”
The product of the famous Bulldogs family makes no secret of his aspirations to once again pin down a spot in first grade, but knows the task won’t be easy with the defending NRL premiers.
“It was nice to have a run in the halves today; I need to keep those skills up,” Mortimer says. “Chad (Townsend) and ‘Jimmy’ (James Maloney) have locked those spots down, but anything can happen – Jimmy might be away on rep duty.
“I’ll just keep working hard, work on my defence and attack and just put pressure on those boys in the Sharks jerseys.
In the meantime, Mortimer will don a jersey of the darker blue variety – but you won’t hear too many Jets fans complaining about that.