Monday, March 31, 2014

Leo Epifania elected as Director

Congratulation to Western Suburbs Magpies great, Leo Epifania for being elected by the members of the club as a Director. Leo bleeds Black and White and is willing to go the hard yards to see the Magpies not only survive, but prosper both on and off the pitch.

This may come as a surprise but Leo didn't start playing rugby league until he was 17. He had a promising ARL career (everyone called it Aussie Rules back then) with his local side, appropriately named Western Suburbs and made the NSW Schoolboys side. He was talked into playing rugby league by some of his mates and started off with the Enfield Federals.

Leo made the Western Suburbs Magpies President's Cup side in 1982, a side containing future first graders Brett Clark, Geoff Sutton and George Ghosn. Another surprise was that he was graded not as a fullack but as a......lock! However, in one of those President Cup games, the regular Wests fullback was injured and the coach put Leo there no doubt due to his AFL background and from then on, Leo made the fullback spot his own.

He was a member of the Western Suburbs Third Grade side in 1983, coached by Steve Ghosn and made his first grade premiership debut in 1984 in the Magpies round 9 clash against Manly at Lidcombe Oval in a match Wests lost in the last 90 seconds 16-14 thanks to a Noel Cleal try.
In all, Leo played 30 first grade premiership matches for Wests between 1984-6 scoring 3 tries and kicking 13 goals. In 1987, he tried his hand at AFL again - this time with the Sydney Swans but by his own admission, it was a tougher task then first thought and left mid season to play for Thirlmere in Group 6. He had a brief stint with the Illawarra Steelers in 1988 before heading off to France where he enjoyed a successful stint with Cahors firstly as a player, then captain/coach then non playing coach from 1989-93. In 1994 he was captain/coach of Young in Group 9. He also coached in England with the York club who play in the lower tier competitions.

Leo's Australian coaching career started out as an assistant to the various teams Steve Ghosn coached in the Metropolitan Cup (forerunner to today's Bundaberg Cup) including Guildford and the Sydney Bulls. He was Western Sububs Jersey Flegg coach from 2004-6 and then was coach of Wests NSW Cup side from 2007-2011 where they were semi finalists all years except 2011 (but only missing the finals by 1 point). In 2012 he was named as an assistant coach of the Wests Tigers feeder club, Balmain/Ryde-Eastwood.

In 2014 he continues to coach the Magpies Ron Massey Cup side after getting them one game from the grand final last year.

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