Last night social media was a buzz when one Leigh Leopards fan pointed out something very interesting.
This was that the Leopards’ star man Edwin Ipape was the favourite to win the Man of Steel according to SkyBet.
This prompted the fan to ask “do Leigh Leopards have the best player in Super League?”
So, why is Ipape the stand out favourite for the most prestigious individual award in British rugby league?
We have a squad full! 🐆 https://t.co/U3w8VgoiLP
— Leigh Leopards (@LeighRLFC_) January 6, 2023
The main argument would of course be that Ipape is an exceptional player. He scored the RFL’s try of the year with an amazing solo effort bouncing through tackles, jinking away from defenders and producing an acrobatic finish in the corner against York last year.
He also claimed the Betfred Championship Player of the Year award as well as the Bevan French award for his Man of the Match display against Featherstone Rovers in the 1895 Cup Final at the Tottenham Hotspurs stadium.
The hooker also excelled in the Rugby League World Cup in a Papua New Guinea shirt. He claimed the Man of the Match award against Tonga despite losing as some of his runs made some of the world’s best defenders were look average by the number nine.
So, he has all the momentum but still it is a big claim to suggest a player who has never played in Super League will win the Man of Steel, or is it?
Brodie Croft in his first season and Jackson Hastings in his first full season both claimed the Man of Steel at Salford Red Devils when they upset the odds and had amazing seasons and maybe that is what Ipape and Leigh are expected to do in 2023.
It has often been suggested that a player in a team that isn’t up the top of the league has more chance of standing out every week and winning the Man of Steel.
However, given the star power of the Leopards’ new signings it may be harder for Ipape to stand out amongst the likes of ex-Leeds Rhinos star and ex-Man of Steel Zak Hardaker and former Huddersfield Giants man Ricky Leutele.
Ultimately, though perhaps it is the fear of the unknown that has Ipape as the stand out ahead of the likes of Aidan Sezer and Wigan Warriors’ Jai Field.
Super League clubs have yet to contend with what Ipape can bring and that could see him tear Super League up.