Despite attracting interest from the NRL following his stellar form in England, Leigh Leopards star hooker Edwin Ipape is going nowhere.
That’s according to current head coach Adrian Lam, who has reaffirmed his commitment in retaining the Papua New Guinea international.
Ipape is currently one of the best number nines in the Super League competition, and was tipped as the favourite to win the 2023 Man of Steel award ahead of the season’s kick-off by the bookmakers.
The 24-year-old is in his second season at the Leigh Sports Village, helping the rebranded-Leopards win promotion from the Championship in his debut campaign.
He has missed just one game in Super League so far this season, crossing for five tries and assisting two more, with 10 clean breaks and 61 tackle busts.
Ipape has recently been linked with a reunion with incoming St George Illawarra Dragons head coach Shane Flanagan, who was a part of the Kumuls’ backroom staff at last year’s World Cup in England.
The 57-year-old Australian also reportedly held a ‘secret meeting’ with out-of-contract England international Luke Thompson for 2024.
St George Illawarra Dragons are yet to make any signings for 2024, with News Corp reporting that Flanagan was interested in Ipape.
Leigh Leopards confident in keeping Edwin Ipape
However, head coach Lam is confident that Ipape will see out his contract at the Leigh Sports Village, having signed a new extended deal last year until the end of 2025.
“Edwin Ipape is contracted to our club for two years,” head coach Lam said.
“He’s not going anywhere, so it’s a pretty simple one for our club, me as coach and Edwin as player.”
Speaking to the media on Thursday ahead of Leigh’s clash with Salford in Super League Round 19, Lam admitted that recruitment plans are ongoing, with the possibility of adding new additions this year.
The Leopards have enjoyed a fine season back in the top flight with 12 wins from 18 to sit second on the Super League table, just two points behind Catalans Dragons.
But the side do have one of the smallest squads in Super League, alongside Salford Red Devils, and could yet bolster their options to finish the year strongly.
“It’s a possibility,” Lam confirmed
“There’s still three or four weeks to be able to do that.
“I think it’s an area most clubs look at to see how you stand financially and positionally, so there’s a chance that may happen.
“We’ll keep our eyes open on that and make some decisions as they are needed as it approaches.”