NEW recruit Edwin Ipape won’t be available for the start of Leigh Centurions’ Betfred Championship campaign.

But the wait for Ipape’s arrival will be well worth it according to head coach Adrian Lam.

Lam’s fellow Papua New Guinean and former England Knight, Kieron Dixon, have been added to Leigh’s squad this week.

And while ex London Broncos, Hull KR and York City Knights winger Dixon will play in Friday’s game at St Helens for Alex Walmsley’s testimonial, Ipape is probably two weeks away from touching down in the UK.

“Edwin will take some time to find his feet, especially in these conditions, “says Lam of his compatriot.

“But when he does he will get the fans alive, and the competition will love him. He can play a variety of positions, including half back and loose forward, but he comes in mainly to strengthen us at hooker.

“I have watched him closely and he is just what we need to thicken up our squad.”

Ipape played for PNG side Lae Tigers, in the Queensland Cup with PNG Hunters and briefly as a trialist at Manly Sea Eagles.

He has been capped three-times by the Kumuls including a memorable 65 metres solo try in his country’s 28-10 win over the Great Britain Lions in 2019.

“It’s really difficult with everything going on to get things done quickly so it will be a minimum of two weeks before he is here.” Lam confirmed.

Dixon gets his contract after an impressive two-week trial. “Leigh are always in and around the top of the table in the Championship and the drive we have as a squad to get back in Super League is massive,” he said.

“And I think we can do it. It is a tough league and there are a lot of difficult grounds to go to, especially early on in the year with the weather conditions.

“It can be a battle sometimes, but these are the battles we are aiming to win.”

Lam expects to use the bulk of his squad at the Totally Wicked Stadium, including forward John Asiata, who only arrived at Leigh on Monday.

“The lads have had to work hard gelling together because a lot have come in from the outside. But they have done a great job so far,” added Lam.

“It is probably one of the best groups I have been involved with in rugby league anywhere and at any time.”

While keen to see how Leigh’s new look squad fares, Lam is also pleased to be able to play a part in Walmsley’s big night.

“As part of our commitment to the relationship we have with St Helens as a dual reg club, we are proud to be able to take part in such an honourable moment for a guy that has been one of the leading players in Super League for such a long time,” he said.

“What Alex has done for club, his country and the sport has been amazing.”