Category: Sporting Hall of Fame
Sport: Rugby League
Year Inducted: 1996
"Chris Mortimer is a noted aggressive defender." The Canberra Times, 21 May 1983
Chris was born in Wagga Wagga on 19 August 1958, where he attended Kooringal Primary and Wagga Wagga High schools.
Nicknamed 'Louie', Chris was the youngest of the three famous Mortimer brothers to play for Canterbury during the 1970s and 1980s.
Chris began his rugby career with the Kooringal Magpies, before graduating to the Wagga Magpies to continue his junior football career, also representing NSW at school level. He joined the Canterbury Bulldogs in 1978, and was a robust centre who later moved effectively into the forwards at lock.
He was a member of Canterbury's Premiership winning side in 1980, 1984 and 1985, and enjoyed success at representative level, playing eight matches for NSW in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987. He played one Test against Papua New Guinea in 1986 and toured with the undefeated Kangaroo Tour squad that same year.
His toughness, steel and defence were invaluable during NSW's State of Origin series victories in 1985 and 1986.
Chris and his brothers Steve and Peter played in four Grand Finals together. No pair of brothers, let alone a trio, have played in four Grand Finals together in the last 30 years. Steve and Chris ended up playing in five Grand Finals together.
Regarded as one of the toughest centres during his career, Chris enjoyed great success against champions such as Michael Cronin, Mal Meninga and Gene Miles in the big matches.
In total, Chris played 192 first-grade games for Canterbury between 1978 and 1987. He left the Bulldogs for the Penrith Panthers in 1988, where his experience was utilised by coaches Ron Willey and Phil Gould to mould a champion team. Chris has long been regarded as the best and most important signing made by Penrith.
He captained Country Origin in 1989, before making his last appearance for NSW. Chris retired from Sydney football following Penrith's 1990 Grand Final loss to Canberra, but continued playing in England.
Chris played for English team Wakefield Trinity in the early 1990s, and is today remembered there as a quiet determined player, described by one former teammate as 'tough as teak'. After succumbing to a serious knee injury, Chris returned to Australia.
On 24 October 2000 Chris Mortimer was awarded the Australian Sports Medal, which commemorates the efforts of Australians who have made our country a nation of sporting excellence.
Chris, Peter and Steve Mortimer are all Life Members of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Football Club. Whereas Peter and Steve took on administrative roles following their retirement, Chris maintained a low profile in the game.
Today in 2016, Chris lives with his family on their property at Oura, NSW, where he enjoys farm life, undertakes building projects and enjoys the occasional cold beer at the Uranquinty Hotel.