Rugby League - Albanian invasion at the Broncos

London Broncos are looking to the unlikely rugby league breeding ground of Albania as they step up their bid for a place in the Tetley's Challenge Cup final.

PA Sport
Rugby League - Albanian invasion at the Broncos

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Olsi Krasniqi played for West London Sharks before joining the Broncos

Forwards Erjon Dollapi, who hails from the northern town of Tropoje, near Albania's border with Kosovo, and Tirana-born Olsi Krasniqi are aiming to help the Broncos get past Bradford in Friday night's fifth-round tie at the Twickenham Stoop.

The south-east European duo arrived in England as youngsters and, after discovering rugby league through their school, were spotted by the Broncos playing for West London Sharks and put through their training programme.

The compatriots are naturally good friends yet they were strangers until being brought together by rugby league.

"I only met Olsi at the Sharks but we get on really well," said Dollapi. "He's a year older than me but we play the same position and do a lot of drills together.

"It is unusual for Albanians to be playing rugby league. There's a young lad at Featherstone who is with their under-16s but, apart from him, I don't think there's anybody else."

Dollapi came to England with his parents and younger brother Ramazan when he was six "for a better life" but did not discover rugby league until he was 15.

"They came in to our school to let us try out different sports and I did rugby league for a month and a half," he explained. "Then I played in a tournament and I did quite well.

"Some of the guys asked me to go play for their team, the West London Sharks. I was 15 then and a year later I tried out for the Harlequins' foundation academy. I didn't get picked for the under-18s that first year but the year after they asked me to come down."

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