Isa can’t wait to feel derby heat

Willie Isa
Willie Isa

Willie Isa says Friday’s “grudge” match is the perfect preparation for their Challenge Cup showdown.

Wigan face a mouthwatering two weeks, with the derby against St Helens on Friday followed a week later by a crunch semi-final against Hull FC.

Shaun Wane’s side are just 80 minutes away from Wembley and are desperate for success in the Cup competition.

But first, they have Saints to contend with and Isa - preparing for his first derby - says the timing of this epic tussle makes it even more significant.

He said: “This is probably a good game to go into next week.

“The Cup game is going to be very physical, very intense and having a derby first is good preparation for that, and a good test for ourselves.”

Isa arrived in the off-season from Widnes as a middle but has seen action in the second-row in recent weeks, filling in for injured Liam Farrell.

He is expected to stay in that role for the next two weeks, with the returning John Bateman taking the right-side slot - allowing Ryan Sutton to return to his preferred position of prop.

And the 27-year-old Isa is hoping to use the derby as a chance to exhibit his big-game credentials.

He said: “It will be awesome.

“It’s a big game for us, and for me individually, I want to test myself in a derby, in a big game.

“You don’t need to get up for these kind of games, it will be an awesome experience.

“I’m looking forward to it - it’s one of those games you keep an eye out for and after last week’s defeat (to Leeds, 18-16), we need to be better.”