LEIGH Leopards’ hooker Edwin Ipape has revealed it’s not only Leythers gripped by Challenge Cup fever.

Nearly 9,000 miles away in Papua New Guinea many of Ipape’s family and friends will be doing their best to catch their favourite son in Wembley action.

Ipape was brought up close to the Western Highlands capital of Mount Hagen.

So, when he crunches into his first tackle shortly after 3pm on Saturday, his fan club in PNG’s third largest city will be cheering around 1am on Sunday morning.

Across the rugby league obsessed nation, they will be also supporting Ipape’s compatriots, team mate, Lachlan Lam and head coach Adrian Lam.

“They are telling me already they will be staying up late to watch me play,” confirmed the popular forward, man of the match in last season’s AB Sundecks 1895 Cup final win over Featherstone.

“They will be cheering me and Leigh.

“Already many of them have sent messages of love and support,” added the popular Kumuls international.

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Despite Leigh’s 1895 triumph at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Ipape agrees interest in the club’s Challenge Cup campaign is at a different level.

“It has been crazy and still hasn’t really sunk in yet. I am trying to process things that have happened.

“It’s like ‘wow’ I just can’t believe it. I am so happy and excited for the game.”

Ipape was largely unknown when he landed in Leigh in January 2022 with the team rebuilding after its Super League relegation in 2021.

“I never had a single doubt in my mind this wasn’t the right decision to come to England,” he insisted.

“People spoke about the history of Leigh and the team going up one year and coming down the next. But I never had any doubt about the team or the squad we have got.

“We have worked hard to be in this position. We have got a big job on our hands in the final but we are there to win it.”