The passions driving enigmatic Chile Rugby League skipper

The passions driving enigmatic Chile Rugby League skipper

Chile has named a 183cm, 120kg, fair-skinned, heavily-tattooed walking enigma to captain its history-making rugby league team in the upcoming Americas Cup.

Indeed, nothing is how it first seems with Nicholas Doberer.

To look at Doberer, you wouldn’t guess he is a goal-kicker, a playmaker, speaks Spanish and is a devoted family man.

The 28-year-old will lead Chile into an unprecedented World Cup qualifier against the USA on November 13 at Jacksonville, Florida – but not before playing ‘Daddy Daycare’ with his son I’luka for eight days solo.

“Haha, yeah my partner Tahnee has gone overseas with her friends, so it’s just me and the little fellow together,” he says ahead of his departure to the northern hemisphere.

“It’s good. Tahnee deserves a break after everything she’s done. Being a mother isn’t easy.

“And for me, I get to spend some quality one-on-one time with my son.”

Although conversing in English, Doberer is equally confident speaking the language he was nurtured in from his first footsteps, Espanol.

He has his mother Veronica’s maiden name – Figueroa – tattooed in thick gothic lettering down his lengthy legs.

“I believe Spanish was my first language,” he reveals.

“All my aunties, wider family and family friends used to speak Spanish whenever we had get-togethers as a kid.”

Doberer was born in the unlikely location of Nambour, on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, a city famous for its Big Pineapple and abundant sugar cane farms.

That came to be after his mother decided to leave her native Chile at age 28 to meet nieces and nephews and undertake an adventure on the opposite side of the Pacific.

Back home in Chile’s capital of Santiago, Doberer’s grandfather Fernando represented football (soccer) team Club Deportivo University Catolica, a fact Nick remains extremely proud of.

However, the youngster grew up as more a fan of rugby league’s Brisbane Broncos, and it was the 13-man game which held his interest all throughout his formative years.

“We moved to Sydney…it was just me and my Mum for most of my childhood,” Nick says.

“I signed up with Leichhardt Juniors, then Leichhardt Wanderers, then I played one game for Clovelly Crocodiles before breaking my collarbone and I gave up the sport for a while.”

Doberer was lured back to rugby league when he read about an organisation that was encouraging people from South and Central American backgrounds to take up the sport – Latin Heat.

He soon became a popular member of the organisation, and after being a fullback and five-eighth in his youth, found himself thrust into the forwards.

Doberer was a strong performer in Chile’s international debut, a 58-20 win against El Salvador, and has collected numerous awards since.

He is fully aware that people will question how a pale-skinned boy who lives in Sydney’s eastern suburbs can skipper Chile, but he also knows how deep his passion runs.

“I’ve always been in touch with my Chileno essence,” says Doberer.

“It isn’t something that just came along because of rugby league, although I love all the friends I’ve made through it.

“Mum is over the moon about me playing for Chile, but I haven’t told her I’m captain yet.

“My mates love the fact too.”

Doberer has enjoyed extended trips to Chile three times, but was absent last year when the Weichafes claimed the Latin American Championship to progress to the World Cup qualifiers.

He stayed at home so he could help raise I’luka in his pivotal first few months of life.

In preparation of the assignment in Florida, Doberer ordered custom-made boots with the Chilean flag and his surname embossed on them.

“We have been strong against other Latin American countries, but we know this will be a difficult assignment facing guys who have experience at the professional level,” Doberer says.

“My message to our boys is to go their strong-minded, with your head held up high, not back down and do our best.

“It’s a foot in the door for Latin America. We are creating history.”

Chris Brantes (Alexandria Rovers), Mana Castillo-Sioni (Botany Rams RLFC), Jonathan Espinoza (Bulimba Valleys Bulldogs RLFC), Iziah Esera Catrileo, Bradley Millar, Trent Millar (Brothers Mustangs RLFC), Nick Doberer (Canterbury RUFC), Thomas Garrido, James Horvat (Corrimal Cougars RLFC), Jaden Laing (Davenport University), Francisco Leiva (Maquinarias RLFC), Piero Diaz (Mariman RLFC), Patrick Caamano (Mounties), Taylor Salas (Ngen Mapu RLFC), Jose Nitor-Alvear (Queanbeyan Kangaroos RLFC), Ferec Cabezas (Rhinos RLFC), Brandon Tobar (Riverstone Razorbacks RLFC) Junior Sandoval (Sunbury Tigers RLFC), Zecil Yao (Toros RLFC), Eduardo Wegener (West Belconnen Warriors RLFC), Eugene Araya (Western Sydney University Ducks RLFC)