Leigh Leopards’ Papua New Guinean star Edwin Ipape facing lengthy spell on sidelines following Round 1 defeat

Ben Olawumi
Edwin Ipape

Light Leopards' Edwin Ipape - Alamy

Leigh Leopards’ Round 1 defeat at home to Huddersfield Giants has been compounded with an injury blow to star hooker Edwin Ipape, who looks set to spend the next five to six weeks on the sidelines.

Papua New Guinea star Ipape lasted just over 10 minutes as the Leopards began their 2024 campaign, leaving the field shortly after Esan Marsters’ opening try for the visitors at the Leigh Sports Village.

In a game strewn with errors, which also saw sin bins for Leopards captain John Asiata and former Huddersfield man Ricky Leutele, the Giants would run out 16-8 winners with Adam Milner and debutant Elliot Wallis also going over for tries.

Losing on home soil in Round 1 for the second season running, Leigh also saw off-season recruit Dan Norman fail a HIA, though with no game for Adrian Lam’s side next weekend, the prop won’t miss any match action.

The same can’t be said for Ipape however, as head coach Lam detailed post-match.

Leigh Leopards’ Papua New Guinean star Edwin Ipape facing lengthy spell on sidelines following Round 1 defeat to Huddersfield Giants

Asked about the star hooker’s injury in his press conference, the Leopards chief explained: “It looked like he popped one of his ligaments, it might be his medial, so we’ll get that looked at tomorrow.

“He said he feels pretty good, but he also said that he felt it pop. I can’t really comment, but it’s one of those ones where we’ll know a lot more tomorrow.

“But if it’s not good news, then it’s anywhere between 5/6 to 12 weeks, so who knows?

“I think he was running with the ball, and he just got twisted in the tackle and landed awkwardly on his knee.

“I’ll need to have another look at that with the medical staff, but at the moment, it’s looking like being at the better end (of those timescales).”

Leigh boss Adrian Lam discusses alternative hooking options

Ipape has been a pivotal part of the Leythers’ rise under Lam, joining ahead of the 2022 season and helping the club, then under the Centurions name, to promotion up from the Championship and scooping the division’s Player of the Year award.

The Mount Hagen-born ace then continued his impressive showings at Super League hero, establishing himself as a hero back home as he lifted the Challenge Cup with the newly rebranded Leopards, earning a place in the top flight’s Dream Team.

There’s no doubting his importance to Lam’s side, but the boss says they will find a way to cope without him.

Discussing his alternative options, Lam added: “We’ve got young Ben McNamara who’s playing some nine for us in training, and has been brought here to the club to do that.

“Obviously we’ve also got Matty Davis as well, so we’ll get through it, regardless of whether Edwin plays or not.

“It’s probably good that there’s no game for us next week in the sense of Edwin’s injury, but fingers crossed it turns out to be better than we think.”

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