‘Lippy’ comes home to boost squadDate published: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
ITALIAN international Richard Lepori is back at Oldham to strengthen Scott Naylor’s squad for the promotion push.
Full-back Lepori (23) signed last night on a deal to the end of the season. He joins forces once again with many of the players who were his Roughyeds team mates in 2013.
Still at Whitebank are Josh Crowley, Adam Files, Sammy Gee, Kenny Hughes, Phil Joy, Danny Langtree, Steven Nield, Lewis Palfrey, Liam Thompson and Michael Ward.
Said chairman Chris Hamilton: “When we discovered he was available we worked hard to get the deal over the line as quickly as possible. The timing is spot-on, given that unlucky Steven Nield is out for the rest of the season.”
Chuffed to get his man for the second time in two and a half years, Naylor said of ‘Lippy’: “He was one of our best players in my first season at Whitebank.
“He’s a massive addition to the squad — a quality signing.
“His arrival makes my selection job tougher, but with quality options that’s just how I like it.
“We keep topping up here and there and we should have Tom Ashton back after injury in the next couple of weeks.
“That will be like having two new players, not one.”
Lepori had his first training session last night but he won’t be available for Sunday’s game at London Skolars because he is with the Italian squad this weekend.
It was while he was starring at Whitebank two years ago that he won his first Italian cap.
Lepori learned his trade as a youngster at Salford and Castleford before shooting to prominence at Oldham in his first year of senior rugby.
One of Naylor’s early signings for the club, he played in 22 of the Roughyeds’ 24 games in 2013, scoring 12 tries to finish third in the club’s try lists behind Jon Ford (21) and Files (15).
He was a leading player in a young side that finished only two points behind leaders North Wales Crusaders, who won automatic promotion.
Rochdale, in third place, were nine points behind Naylor’s boys, who they beat in the play-off final, which was Lepori’s last game in Oldham colours.
He headed off to northern Queensland in a region famous for its snakes and crocs and spent a year there before coming home and signing for Whitehaven, which was to prove no more than a stepping stone on his route back to Oldham.
Adam Clay, who has an ankle injury, didn’t train last night. He will be assessed at tomorrow night’s session.
Apart from Nield and Ashton, everyone else is fit.
Ashton has been out for three months with knee ligament damage, but last night he trained with the full squad for the first time.
Said Naylor: “We’ll be pushing him along at the right pace. We’ve got to guard against sending him back too soon.”