Wolves v Warriors preview: Unsung heroes

Willie Isa and Taulima Tautai celebrate the Warriors win over Hull FC last Friday night
Willie Isa and Taulima Tautai celebrate the Warriors win over Hull FC last Friday night

There are different heroes on a rugby pitch depending on who you ask.

Following tonight’s game, whatever the result, there will be debate over who stood out and who made a difference.

A winning tryscorer may be the topic of discussion in one car in the queue to join the M6 at junction 22 after full-time.

In The Lord Rodney pub, Wolves fans might be staring into their pints replaying a flash of individual brilliance going against them like George Williams unleashed on Hull FC last week.

And others might look for who put a shift in – made 50 tackles and played the ball quickly, but didn’t hear their name over the tannoy.

Which is why Willie Isa was pleased to see Taulima Tautai’s feats last week rewarded with the winning try.

It was his bone-jarring tackle with moments to spare which helped Wigan win as much as him crashing through the Hull defence for the try.

Had he not scored, the tackle, while it wouldn’t have gone unnoticed, would arguably have been less talked about.

“It was the tackle before it that got us back in the game,” said Isa.

“They are great moments you want from each individual to help the team get over the line and Taulima helped us on that night.

“It’s one of those moments tyou never forget. Those are little things that make big games.”

And coach Shaun Wane agreed.

“If he didn’t put that effort into contact, we lose the game – it comes down to those fine margins,” said the coach.

It’s those things that Wigan have missed against Warrington this season.

Two losses, both in April, produced uninspiring performances, admittedly though, during a time in the season when Wane’s squad was still adjusting to a spell where injuries were particularly high in numbers.

But Isa is hoping 28-16 and 40-10 reverses against the Wolves will be balanced with a Warriors success tonight, and he thinks plays like Tautai’s mega tackle last week can prove to be the difference.

“Fair play to him, he’s been great for us on and off the pitch al year and he gives us a spark off the bench,” he said. “It makes it easier for us and we need to continue to do little things like that in big games, and as a team we need to do well against Warrington.”

But Tautai’s transition, since arriving at Wigan for the beginning of the 2015 season, has not come to this point without hard work, according to Wane.

“He’s an unsung hero,” said the coach.

“When he came from Wakefield, by his own admission he was shell shocked, but he’s gripped it and he’s been outstanding.

“Now he speaks more than anyone else, he drives how sessions go, him and John Bateman relish in this environment. He loves it.

“It took him a year to get it, but since this pre-season he has been consistently well this year, he’s an upbeat guy and really enjoy coaching him.”