Doncaster Knights' Alex Dolly reveals pride in brother Nic’s England call-up
His younger brother is making headlines following a meteoric rise for England but Alex Dolly is also having an impact of his own with in-form Doncaster Knights.
The scrum-half, a summer recruit from Nottingham, is thriving in Steve Boden’s side, who have won six of their last seven Championship games ahead of Saturday’s visit from Coventry.
It continues the siblings’ fascinating story which saw them move from their homeland of Australia to establish rugby roots in the north of England.
Hooker Nic Dolly, 22, made his England debut against world champions South Africa last month after a remarkable journey which saw him first spotted by Sale Sharks when, as a teenager, he was on an extended visit from Sydney to his grandparents’ home in Manchester.
He ended up signing a five-year deal and spent time on loan at Rotherham Titans in 2017-18 while earning England Under-18 and Under 20 honours.
However, with only a handful of Sale appearances to his name, he was released leading to him dropping down to the Championship with Coventry in February.
Remarkably, though, just a month later after scoring three tries in as many games, including one against Doncaster, Dolly was snapped up by Leicester Tigers.
From there, his progress has been so rapid that he only made his first Premiership start in September yet was being picked by Eddie Jones just weeks later.
“I was immensely proud,” Alex Dolly said.
“It’s a huge credit to him getting that England opportunity.
“Donny were actually down in Hartpury so we played our game and I was straight onto the bus afterwards, managing to get the laptop on with the game up.
“It was really nice to see him come on and see all his hard work pay off; I was just mega proud.
“It was nice to see such perseverance pay off like that.”
Dolly – who followed his brother to the UK in 2017 when joining Fylde and playing for Rotherham himself in 2018-19 – was not surprised by how quickly he has advanced.
He said: “It’s one of those things. Most people have said this: you’ll struggle to find a harder worker than him and literally that is what kind of got him here.
“He’s worked really hard on his set piece and his skills. There was always that belief he could and when the time came he just had to take the opportunity.
“That’s sport, really. Now we just want him to kick on.”
Dolly, 24, explained how the spell at Rotherham proved useful for his brother.
“With sporadic appearances at Sale, he needed to go out and get some game-time to develop his game,” he recalled.
“He got to go play in the Championship with Rotherham and managed to play seven or eight games. I think that was massively important for his development.
“He was about 19 at the time and getting Championship minutes is always important. He was lucky he was at Roth’.”
Has England’s newest cap been up to Castle Park yet to see his brother in action?
“No. He hasn’t actually,” said ex-Jersey Reds player Alex.
“Most of our games collide with Leicester on Saturdays.
“But I’ve not had a chance to go down and watch him yet either and it’s just one of those things where with rugby it all happens at the same time.”
It is certainly all a long way from their childhood in Sydney.
“Growing up as kids, playing in the back garden, it always got competitive but we are pretty close, to be fair,” he added.
“We’re both pretty competitive but being just 18 months apart it was nice to grow up together and play cricket and rugby together.
“And we do help each other quite a lot; he caught my balls when I was box kicking and I’ve caught plenty of his line-out throws over the years!”
Meanwhile, Dolly has quickly settled at fourth-placed Knights who defeated his former club Nottingham 45-12 last weekend and now look to avenge a 39-22 opening day loss at Coventry.
“They beat us in that first round so we’re obviously really fired up for the weekend and kind of feel we owe them one,” he said.
“We’re in a good place at the minute. We’re back at home at Castle Park and we’d like to think we put in our best performances there.
“For me, it was a pretty easy decision to come to Donny. The facilities are great – the pitch is one of the best in not just the Championship but the top two divisions – there’s a great bunch of lads and they are lovely people here.
“Hopefully we can get a few more wins before the new year and then reassess then.”
Clearly, Doncaster certainly plan on keeping the pressure on leaders Ealing Trailfinders.
And who knows what 2022 will bring for both of these rugby-mad brothers so far from home.