Isa has gone ‘back to school’

Willie Isa in training this week
Willie Isa in training this week

WILLIE Isa admits he had a case of the jitters as he formally began his Wigan career this week.

But the former Widnes forward has quickly settled into his new surroundings as he prepares to make his mark in 2016.

Isa, 26, met most of his team-mates at the back-end of last season and was a regular visitor to their Orrell training base for the past month as he underwent physio on an elbow injury.

“But starting day one was still like going back to school,” he admits.

“It was nerve-racking, I didn’t know how to act and I’m not really one who talks much.

“But the boys have been really welcoming and I’m getting to know them.”

Isa already knew one of Wigan’s players from his time in Australia, where he played in the NRL with Penrith and Melbourne.

“I played against Taulima (Tautai) when we were younger,” he said.

“I played a year above, I’m from Penrith, he’s from Parra’ and there’s a rivalry there – it’s like Wigan-Saints – and so I already knew T before I came here.

“He was a centre back then – now he’s a prop – but personality-wise he’s still the same.”

Isa has a reputation for being an impeccable trainer and has enjoyed the gruelling sessions which have greeted him in his first week of pre-season.

Coach Shaun Wane was impressed with his fitness levels during the Vo2 Max testing at the University of Central Lancashire on Monday.

“I enjoy the hard stuff, you have to put it in before you can play footy,” said the Australian. Isa is the only ‘new’ recruit for 2016 – Sam Tomkins is returning to his home-town club after two years in the NRL. Greg Burke has also rejoined after a season on loan with Hull KR.

Isa’s capture will provide extra competition for places in a congested pack, while his versatility gives Wane the option of playing him at prop, second row, loose forward or even at centre,