Edwin Ipape using humble upbringing as motivation to do the business for Leigh | The Sun

EDWIN Ipape may be tipped to be one of Super League's men to watch but that will not make this Leopard change his spots.

The Leigh star will be the same that saved up to buy a ball in his native Papua New Guinea, who played with filled containers when he did not have one, sometimes in the streets barefoot.

Hooker Ipape has everything he ever wanted when he grew up in Warakum Junction, close to the mountain town of Mount Hagen.

But it is that childhood that keeps him rooted and makes sure he never gets ahead of himself. It also brings the best out of him.

Ipape said: “Life’s totally different to growing up in PNG, we’re not the luckiest to have world class facilities or things like that – if you have money, you have access to a gym, if you don’t, you don’t!

“You train barefoot on the street or whatever. I remember as a kid growing up, I’d save up to buy myself a ball as I didn’t have one to play with after school.

“If I didn’t have a ball in my hands I’d find a container, cut it in half and put something heavy in it so I could pretend it was a ball.

“But when I look back, it shows me how far I’ve come. That upbringing gives me the drive to succeed. I always try to focus on how I got here and keep my feet grounded. It keeps me motivated too.


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“I didn’t expect to be in the top five or 10 Man of Steel contenders. I guess it’s a bonus that people can have that belief in me, though.

“Every day, I expect the best from myself and try to be consistent in everything I do. When I do something wrong, I can sometimes get too disappointed in myself.

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“But I try to find that balance, just to keep my head in a good place, a safe space.

Tonight sees the new era at Leigh born – gone are the Centurions, in came the Leopards.

The club has embraced rugby league's new off-field era by recruiting band Scouting for Girls to whip up the crowd before Adrian Lam's men face Salford.

They have also risen to the new level they are at after winning the Championship by bringing in the likes of Zak Hardaker, Ricky Leutele and five players from Warrington.

But Ipape, who represented his country at the World Cup, is the star many people are watching.

And the man himself cannot wait to find out if he is up to it.

The 24-year-old added: “As a kid when you play rugby league you want to test yourself against the best and see how good you can be against them.

“I learned a lot from the World Cup and going against the best. Learning what it takes to play at that level – doing that gives me more confidence I can do it.

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“And Super League is a good challenge for myself. I can already sense a difference after promotion, there’s a lot of pressure on us. People want to see how we’ll do at the top, there’s a lot at stake.

“The priority is coming out and competing every week, giving it our best shot.”

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