Off the Bench at The Rugby World Cup
Posted on 29th November 2017 at 11:18
Our very own Academy manager Richard Lepori jetted off to Australia last month after being selected as part of the Italian squad for the Rugby League World Cup, here at Onside we followed his progress keenly and there was tremendous excitement when he was chosen to play in the Italy v Fiji game on the 10th November! Rich is now back with us, and although we gave him a couple of days to shift the dreaded jet lag we couldn't resist grabbing him as soon as possible for a chat about his World Cup exploits and here's what he had to say:
How long have you been representing Italy as a rugby league player?
I made my debut in 2013.
What position do you play in Rugby?
I play full back and on the wing, but for Italy I predominantly play on the wing.
One word to describe your playing style?
What was the selection process like?
I played in the qualifiers last winter, and we are selected on our club performances and how we played previously for Italy.
How did you find out you had been selected for the World Cup squad?
The coach spoke to me privately before it was officially announced.
How did it feel to actually be called on to play in the Italy v Fiji match? nervous?
Nervous in the week but it’s when the game came round I felt good, the big games are the ones you want to be involved in.
Have you formed any close friendships with your fellow Italia team mates?
Yeah I was the only English Italian there but made some great mates, some were made last year in the qualifiers so a lot of us knew each other.
Did you have a favorite team mate?
Erm, too hard to say really because a lot of us got on really well and had a good laugh.
Did you meet anyone over in Australia who left you starstruck?
Our assistant coach Anthony Minichello is a superstar of the game but after the first 10 minutes hes just one of the boys so not really. Rugby League players are all working class lads who are down to earth and normal so there’s no need to be in awe.
What's next for you after the World Cup- any other Rugby ambitions?
I’ve just signed for a new club so I’m hoping for a big season and see what happens. Aiming to stay injury free this season.
What was Australia like?
It’s a great country. I spent a year there after university so I had some good friends still there. Was good to catch up and enjoy the sun!
Did you get any free time in Australia outside of training/playing and if so what did you get up to?
Yeah we had a lot of down time, we did a few visits to cool spots like the great barrier reef, famous waterfalls, museums, race days etc. We also had a good time in the evening too, we got to go out a few times after games etc.
We know it took you a few days to adjust to the jet-lag but are you now back to 100% and enjoying being back at Onside? (we can tell by the return of the trench coat)
Yeah I’m back into it now! It’s a busy period just before Christmas, and trimester 2 arriving at the beginning of December so I’ve got my hands full but everything seems to be going well and our partners are doing a great job at each site so things are looking positive for the company, especially with the new office.
What is your most embarrassing moment on the pitch?
I lost my front tooth playing against Warrington Wolves academy when I was 18. That was pretty embarrassing.
As you were on live TV did that impact how you played, were you at all self conscious?
No not really, it was more exciting. I’ve played on TV quite a few times in the past so wasn’t too bad.
Did the team give you a nickname?
My nickname is Lippi but I’ve had that for years… anyone who knows me would probably say it’s a fitting nickname haha.
Did you swap shirts with anyone from the Fiji team, and if so- who?
No I wanted to keep my shirt, it means a lot to my mum. She likes to keep them safe and frames the important ones which is nice.
Spot the Academy Manager...
(Bottom row 3rd from the left is a familiar face)
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