Old wives’ tales or the truth? That’s what Saints’ rising young star Regan Grace is about to find out when he pulls on a Welsh jersey in their World Cup opener against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby at the weekend.
The fleet-footed winger, who made his club debut at Wigan on Good Friday and went on to make a further 23 appearance, is fully aware of the frightening stories which abound in the sport when teams come face-to-face with the Kumuls whose fans, armed with spears, travel by foot for days just to reach match venues and in the past police have been forced to use tear gas to break up pitch invasions.
“People have told me loads of stories trying to scare me,” Grace told BBC Wales.
He said: “I’d rather go and find out what it’s like for myself but a lot of people are saying the same things so it can’t be too far from the truth.
“Not many people get to go to these corners of the world and I’m getting to do it as part of my.”
The 20-year-old, who hails from Port Talbot, has experienced a sudden and meteoric rise through the ranks since discovering rugby league by chance through an advertising poster when he was 13.
He made his Wales debut two years ago after catching the eye playing for St Helens’ Academy and this year was short-listed for the Super League Young Player of the Year, only to be pipped at the post by Wigan’s Oliver Gildart.
“I’ve loved this season,” said Grace.
“I didn’t expect to be up there but I’m just loving it. Playing at the top level, it’s just mad.”
No doubt his 24-year-old sister, Layesha, who has already made headlines herself as a Big Brother Housemate and featured in the reality series, The Valley, will be keeping a close eye on her younger brother’s performances and hoping he makes as big an impact as she when under the spotlight.