Edwin Ipape has recalled the moment he took just to step back and embrace the Leigh Leopards support following their Challenge Cup triumph at Wembley.
On Saturday, Leigh won their first Challenge Cup final since 1971 with a 17-16 golden point extra-time win over Hull KR thanks to a drop goal from Lance Todd Trophy winner Lachlan Lam.
“It’s just relief,” Ipape told Love Rugby League after the game. “As soon as the field goal went over I was like ‘we’ve done it, this is it’.
“I’m trying to soak this moment in and I’m sure I’ll sit down with the boys and have a couple of beers (and let it sink in that we’ve won it).”
The Leopards will celebrate their Challenge Cup success on Sunday evening with a homecoming parade in the town and surrounding areas.
“I’m sure the town was empty!” an elated Ipape added. “Just to see them waving their hands and flags up, I just stood there to myself and thought ‘what a moment’.
“I might not get this moment again, so I just embraced it. I’ve got nothing but love for the fans and respect for the passion they show for this team.
“Before we came here we talked about the parade, we had a plan and I told Derek (Beaumont, owner) to do some stuff which we’ll do when we go back and it’s going to work.
“I just can’t wait to get back to Leigh and enjoy the celebrations with the fans. This is for the fans, you saw the people that travelled all the way to see this historic moment.”
‘I have loved this game as far back as I can remember’ – Edwin Ipape on his love for rugby league
The Papua New Guinea superstar says rugby league is more than just a game to him: it’s his life and always has been ever since he was young.
“As far back as I can remember, I have loved this game,” Ipape said.
“I love competing and the contact of this game.
“It’s just given me a lot of things in life, it has given me opportunities, it has brought me to places and you talk about passion, that’s why I play the game.
“Every time I pull that jersey on, it doesn’t matter if I play for my country or if I play for Leigh, I just go out there and play 100 per cent, it doesn’t matter if I’m taking a carry or if I’m tackling – I just go full on. It’s just the way I play the game.”