After Mortimer was given permission to negotiate with other clubs last week by the Parramatta Eels, he was quickly linked to Super League, particularly Salford. But manager Steve Gillis said Mortimer still had much to offer in Australia.
”We pretty much ruled out England straight away,” Gillis said yesterday. ”He’s got plenty to offer here. You’d never say never, but it’s unlikely.”
Gillis admitted that the timing of the Eels’ decision to set the five-eighth loose would make it more difficult for him to find a contract in the NRL, given most rosters have been all but filled for next year. That being the case, he said Mortimer was prepared to see out the remainder of his contract with the Eels, even if it meant playing in NSW Cup.
But his preference was for Mortimer to find opportunity elsewhere in the NRL. ”I’ve always found that the best way to do things, in these situations, is to resolve,” Gillis said. ”[But] if he has to sit for 12 months until an opportunity comes along, he’ll sit around for 12 months. I will say it would have been a lot easier if they had given us a head start.”
Parramatta chief executive Paul Osborne said the Eels would not force Mortimer to leave the club if he chose to stay, even though he is on a reported $220,000-a-season contract.
”That’s not a problem,” Osborne said. ”There was never an issue for us in terms of honouring his commitment.”