Dolly Enjoying Atmosphere Within Knights Squad
11th November 2021
Scrum half Alex Dolly signed for the Knights this summer from fellow Championship side, Nottingham.
Dolly had previously been a part of the Rotherham Titans set-up in National One before moving into the Championship with Nottingham in April 2019, making 28 appearances for the Green and Whites.
The former cricketer signed with the Knights after being impressed with the club’s progress last season and with his sights set on challenging himself more at full-time rugby level.
“With COVID-19, Nottingham moved to a part-time model, so having done a full year with Notts before that I wanted the opportunity to continue playing rugby full-time. Then, having seen how well Donny did last year, it was obviously a pretty easy option to sign here.”
Australian-born, Dolly didn’t always have his sights set on a rugby career. In fact, it was a completely different sport which drew him to the UK before a chance offer ignited his rugby union skills.
“I was playing cricket in Manchester – I signed as an overseas player to a team there. Then, through my brother [Nic Dolly, Leicester Tigers hooker] when he was playing at Sale, the A-League head coach had an injury in his squad, so asked me, ‘Do you fancy coming down to play for us?’ So, I thought I would do the six months with Fylde then just go back to my cricket season. But then I ended up at Rotherham for a year before signing for Nottingham.”
Dolly soon excelled himself in the scrum-half role – a position he has featured at in all six of the Knights games this season. He can often be seen alongside Sam Olver as the two begin to foster a strong half-back partnership.
“I think Sam is a class 10 and he’s been in the Championship for a while now, so it’s nice to have someone with you that has that experience. His communication is good, so I always know where we’re going or what we’re doing. He’s calm, so that rubs off on me as a younger player – I just listen and learn, trying to absorb as much as I can really.
“For me, getting back-to-back game time is so important. For personal development, playing as many minutes as I can is good in order to keep ticking along. At the time being though, it’s about week-on-week here, that’s the main thing.
“If the team is going well then individual performance always benefits as well. That’s one of the main things I think Bodes is trying to instil in us – that the team comes first, then individual performance and needs come after.”
It’s been a relatively seamless transition for Dolly into the squad under Steve Boden’s tutelage – the half-back is one of 15 new signings to have arrived at Castle Park this season.
“It’s been so easy to fit in. To be honest, the first week you already felt like you’d been here longer than a week. It’s nice to fit in because you’re able to just crack on and get going.
“We’ve not had any of that awkwardness or perception of coming in as the new guy, and I think that makes a difference. A lot of people are new, so we almost went back to basics and that helped build a good understanding early on.”
That understanding has enabled the squad to record four wins and two losses from six games so far this season – including some close encounters against Jersey and Ampthill. Dolly believes that the best is still to be seen from this Doncaster side, but it’s what they’re striving to capture in the upcoming run of games.
“I think getting that complete performance is most important. I don’t think we judge ourselves on wins or losses – we try to judge ourselves on how we performed and I don’t think we’ve put that complete performance together yet.
“We’ve been good on one side of the ball and maybe not the other, but we haven’t put them both together. We are moving in the right direction though. We’ve got a couple of wins now – Jersey was a big turning point for us as defensively we were very good, whereas at Ampthill we let things get away from us but against Richmond we put another peg forward with our attack.
“We’ve got a tough run of games coming up with Hartpury, Ealing and Cornish, so we’re going to need to be at our best to get results in those games.”