RUGBY UNION: All-rounder Thorpe has the back row covered

Richard Thorpe (carrying ball) makes a break for London Welsh as Pete Browne looks on

Richard Thorpe (carrying ball) makes a break for London Welsh as Pete Browne looks on

First published in Rugby Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

Richard Thorpe is happy to be London Welsh’s Mr Versatile as they continue their promotion push in the Greene King IPA Championship.

Thorpe starts at No 8 at Plymouth Albion today, having also recently featured in both flanker positions.

And while the former London Irish and Leicester player still has a preferred role, he has no problem being a jack of all back-row trades.

“That’s the nature of my game now,” said Thorpe, who played on the blindside against Leeds last week.

“If you ask me what my position is, I would say I am an openside flanker.

“That’s where I have tried to specialise.

“But I have often found myself playing at six and eight, which is where I am starting against Plymouth.

“It is a job I am happy to do.”

Thorpe’s Welsh debut was delayed until October by injury, but his versatility has since proved a real asset.

“My size and skill set are suited to playing at seven, but really I will play anywhere they want me to,” he said .

“It’s the player that I am now. It means that I am always going to be to be able to do three jobs.

“That’s how I can sell myself!”

This is Thorpe’s first season in the Championship after spending the rest of his career in the Premiership and he has been impressed by what he has seen.

“It’s actually really hard to draw many differences,” he said. “The physicality is definitely still there.

“The only big difference is that you don’t have those few superstars in your team like you do in the Premiership.”

Thorpe believes workrate will be crucial if Welsh are to get back to the top flight.

“That is what is going to get us over the line and back into the Premiership,” he said.

“We are prepared to work longer and harder than the rest of our opponents.

“That’s what we are priding ourselves on.”

The Exiles are just one point clear of second-placed Rotherham, with the entire top five closely packed, making for a tense run-in as sides seek a play-off spot.

“We are aware of the pressure,” said Thorpe. “We are speaking about it all the time in our team meetings.

“I thought we handled it well against Leeds and put in one of our strongest performances.

“We can take a lot of confidence from our game last week.”

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