Wigan Warriors: Willie Isa reflects on a year full of highlights including a Challenge Cup victory
Willie Isa looks past on how the past 12 months have panned out for Wigan Warriors.
Right from the start Matty (Peet) and the coaching staff set the standard.
We have just flowed through the year really.
At the start it was a change for the players, but a change for the good.
Obviously looking back throughout the year, all of our fans and the supporters were on side and could see what we are trying to do as a team and as a club.
It’s good to see people supporting us and falling in love with us, especially with the way we have played.We’ve got vital players in our team but I think we have just used them right.
A good brand of rugby
I like to think we’ve transformed a lot of what we do on the training paddock. .
I know it’s a cliche but it’s true, we are enjoying it, and that’s one of Matty’s most important messages.
When it comes to the match day, we haven’t been scared of what we’ve done in training and putting it on the field.
Some of our players can express their characteristics and that’s what makes the team.
There’s a good balance in our team and everyone plays their part, but I leave all of the fancy stuff to the quick guys.
It’s been amazing to watch what they do.
I always admire what people do off the field, so it comes as no surprise.
They built a pattern throughout the year that they keep continuing to do, and that’s what rugby league is about.
You want people to enjoy us and the brand we bring to Super League, which is a credit to the coaches.
A day to remember at Tottenham
The Challenge Cup final was a great day for the club.
The whole thing is a big occasion for supporters, and for Marshy (Liam Marshall) to score that try is something every Wigan kid wants to do.
He’s lived that dream and hopefully he will get to do it more.
It was great for the whole town, and that’s important because it’s the memories that make people come back.
That day we had a great support, which was just a reflection of the year leading into that game.
I’m glad everyone bought into Tottenham because we’ll probably never be there again.
We took the opportunity with both hands.
The boys and the supporters enjoyed the moment and that’s the most important thing.
It’s the hope we can all take into the future.
We’ve had some good times and the group has really come together.
After a bit of change we have adapted well.
A game that stands out to me is Hull KR away in August.
I know we lost that match but there were a lot of debuts that day.
The kids who played worked hard to get there, and that’s the kind of thing that stands out to me.
It’s easy to remember Bevan French and his tries, but this club is built on young players coming through the academy, so those moments should not be taken for granted.
Play-off semi-final disappointment
Obviously we finished the year with the defeat to Leeds, and I take that as a learning curve for this group where we can be better.
It was disappointing but there’s nothing we can do now.
We can dissect and move forward because this league is too fast to stop and worry about what happened in the past, so we just have to keep going.
When the season starts, the games come thick and fast.
We have to improve because other teams will always be better, but I like to think we do things differently.
We will always embrace the challenges ahead to keep learning and keep improving, following Matty’s lead to see where it will take us.
Community is key
We are always a work in progress and always want to get better.
We always want to improve, especially with our interaction with the town and the kids.
We’ve started going around the primary schools again during this pre-season.
Everyone knows what we are doing, so we do our best.
It’s part of training, because there’s a slot there where we can express ourselves away from rugby league.
We can interact and deliver sessions, which is a learning curve for us, but it’s something that we are trying to build here as a team for the town.
I think people are happy with the product we are producing as a team on the field, which is important, but with rugby league we are very accessible, and that’s the beauty of it.
Sometimes it’s not easy, sometimes it is, but it’s part of our job.
I have never thought there has been a big gap there at this club, but we are always trying close.
We want to make our supporters feel like they are part of it.
We are not afraid to show people our work because that’s what they are proud of, and I do hope they are proud.
They get to see what’s happening in the 80 minutes, but also what’s going on in the background.
There’s a lot of work and preparation that goes into that, so as long as we do that right then I think we’ll be fine.
It’s about education on both sides. We are understanding supporters and they are understanding us.
It’s the best way to do it, and rugby league is the vehicle.
We are just trying to build on what we’ve done this year to be better with different ideas.
*Willie Isa was speaking to Amos Wynn