‘Lippy’ set for Championship challengeDate published: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
RICHARD Lepori has signed a new one-year contract at Oldham, confident that newly-promoted Roughyeds will hold their own in the Championship.
Capped five times by Italy, the Chorley-based full-back starred for Scott Naylor’s men in 2013, but then satisfied his wanderlust by rejecting a new offer to sign for a small-town club in northern Queensland.
On his return to England early this year, he signed for Championship club Whitehaven, but never settled in Cumbria and eventually arrived back at Whitebank, to Naylor’s delight, on a short-term agreement to the end of the season.
As Roughyeds were beating all-comers on their way to the League One title and promotion, 23-year-old Lepori played in seven of the last nine games, missing away wins at London Skolars and Oxford because he was playing for Italy — against Ukraine in Kiev and Russia in Moscow.
“I wasn’t happy at Whitehaven, but I’ve always loved playing for Oldham and I’m chuffed to know I’ll be back next season,” said the trainee teacher, who will be 24 next week.
“I know I didn’t set the place alight at the back end of last season, but I gradually got my confidence back although I wasn’t as fit as I might have been and I was playing in a side whose super fitness all round blew opponents out of the water.
“Pre-season work will do me a world of good, especially if we’ve still got Kane Daniels (fitness conditioner) at the club and I’m quietly confident we’ll do okay in the Championship.
“There are two ‘divisions’ within the Championship — the full-time clubs and the part-timers.
“Realistically, we have to pick up as many points as possible against the other part-time clubs and see where it takes us.
“Scott (coach Naylor) and ‘Spanner’ (assistant boss Lee Spencer) are pretty smart guys and they’ll be targeting specific games.
“We’ll be leaping into the unknown, but it’s an exciting prospect and we are assembling a squad that’s going to have a real crack at it.”
In total Lepori has scored 14 tries in 29 games for Oldham — 12 in 22 in 2013 and two in seven this year.
Said head coach Naylor: “He wanted to do the Aussie thing in 2013 and I could understand the reasons for that. He was young and single, so why not ?
“I always wanted him back though because he’s a very good player and a fantastic lad to have around the place.
“A real pro, he’s an excellent trainer and he gets us moving forward on the field. Even at Championship level a fully prepared ‘Lippy’ will get us on the front foot.”