Debutants Chile, the first South American nation to take part, have named their captain for the Americas Championship, which will also act as qualifiers for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
The University of North Florida, Jacksonville, will host two double-header rounds on 13th and 17th November 2018, and in the opening fixtures Chile take on hosts USA, the winners facing either Jamaica or Canada.
The Weichafes have turned to 28-year-old back rower Nick Doberer to lead them, whose mother left her native Chile when at the same age, to meet nieces and nephews on the opposite side of the Pacific.
His grandfather, Fernando, represented soccer team Club Deportivo University Catolica in Santiago, but Doberer, growing up on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, became imbued with rugby league as a Brisbane Broncos fan.
“We moved to Sydney, it was just me and my Mum for most of my childhood,” Nick said. “I signed up with Leichhardt Juniors, then Leichhardt Wanderers, and I played one game for Clovelly Crocodiles before breaking my collarbone and I gave up the sport for a while.”
Doberer was lured back when he read about Latin Heat, an organisation that was encouraging people from South and Central American backgrounds to take up the game. He soon became a popular member and, after being a fullback and stand off in his youth, found himself moved into the forwards.
He was a strong performer in Chile’s international debut, a 58-20 win against El Salvador, and has collected numerous awards since.
“I’ve always been in touch with my Chileno essence,” noted the native Spanish speaker. “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.”
Doberer has enjoyed extended trips to his homeland three times, but was absent last year when the national side claimed the Latin American Championship to progress to the World Cup qualifiers, staying at home so he could help raise son I’luka in his pivotal first few months.
“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 noted. “My message to our boys is to go there strong-minded, not back down and do our best. It’s a foot in the door for Latin America. We are creating history.”
CHILE 21-MAN SQUAD
Jonathan Espinoza (Balmoral RLFC), Iziah Catrileo, Bradley Millar, Trent Millar (Brothers Mustangs RLFC), Thomas Garrido, James Horvat (Corrimal Cougars RLFC), Eugene Araya, Chris Brantes, Patrick Camaano, Mana Castillo-Sioni, Nick Doberer, Jaden Laing, Jose Nitor-Alvear, Brandon Tobar (Latin Heat RLFC), Francisco Leiva (Maquinarias RLFC), Piero Diaz (Mariman RLFC), Taylor Salas (Ngen Mapu RLFC), Ferec Cavezas (Rhinos RLFC), Junior Sandoval (Sunbury Tigers RLFC), Zecil Yao (Toros RLFC), Eddie Wegener (West Belconnen Warriors RLFC)