Isa: Demands on players not healthy
Willie Isa admits the bumper Easter schedule is 'not healthy' for the players.
Wigan’s game against St Helens today is followed by a trip to resurgent Wakefield on Monday.
This year, there is also another double-header weekend – in May – to help accommodate England’s mid-season Test against Samoa.
And forward Isa said: “I could go on all day about it, but I just go with it.
“I wish we had a players’ association so we could have a proper say in the games.
“It is a tough period, and I understand we should just get on with it because we get paid for what we do.
“But at the same time, it’s not healthy for players to be back out in a short amount of time – but I’ll go with it.”
Shaun Wane, by contrast, is a fan of the Easter programme.
“The timing of it, with our problems in personnel, couldn’t have come at a worse time but I love this period,” he said.
“The staff have to work hard and we have to be smart with what we do.
“We need to make sure the players get absolute quality on the restricted things we do with them, so it’s a great test for everyone in Super League.
“Our record at this time is very very good, probably the best in Super League at winning Good Friday and Easter Monday games, so it’s something we really really enjoy.”
Wane says that, while coaches have been working frantically behind-the-scenes, this week’s preparations have been no different for the players.
“I just want everyone to go balls out on Friday, then we will patch things up on Saturday and Sunday, make sure we’ve got a decent team to go out on Monday, because Wakefield are going to be in the same boat, they’ve got a tough game against Castleford on Friday so we’ve just got to turn up with the right attitude,” he said.
“It’s pressure, you’ve got to work hard, you have to be smart.
“We’ve got this much information to give to the players about Wakefield but it’s prioritising the key information that’s going to get the win, and trying to be smart with it and work it out and it’s long hours for the staff, we’re at home clipping games and training.
“It’s a real test of your strength in depth, your staff, your medical staff.... we’re getting people in to massage players to make sure our recoveries are good ones, it’s full on. There’s no rest.”
Matty Smith will be making his first return to the DW Stadium since leaving the Warriors at the end of the season.
“He was probably my toughest to let go that one because he’s a good guy, he’s done a lot of good things for us – but he’s gonna get some stick this weekend,” said Wane.
“He’s smart, all the players and staff love him, he’ll always be friends with us.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him, our players know what he can do and we will give him every respect but we need to put him under pressure.”
Wigan have won all the Good Friday derbies since Wane became a part of the first-team set-up in 2010.
“There’s nothing different,” he said.
“I make sure that all the non-Wiganers understand how important the game is to us, and we’ve got a few in this weekend.
“But the local lads at St Helens, Paul Wellens and James Roby, it means a lot to them so they’ll be ready.
“I just make sure the players I have who aren’t from this area understand that this is the game, this is what means everything to Wigan people, and the St Helens people.”
Isa, who joined Wigan ahead of last season, is one of those ‘non-Wiganers’ and he knows exactly what to expect.
“You don’t need a get-up for this one,” he smiled. “
It’s the only rugby league game I watched before I came here.
“Just for pure atmosphere, the two locals going against each other... it means a lot to me, but it means a lot more to the people around the area.
“The way I see it, I’m representing the people from this area, I want them to go to work on Monday and Tuesday and go, ‘Yeah they got one up’.”