Wigan Warriors' Willie Isa follows in girlfriend's steps by playing at Liverpool FC's Anfield

Willie Isa isn't even the first person in his own home to have played at Anfield - his girlfriend is a former Liverpool Ladies captain!

Friday, 24th May 2019, 11:48 am
Willie Isa and his partner, Gemma Bonner

The forward is counting the hours to the Warriors' headlining clash with Warrington at tomorrow's Magic Weekend.

And he'll know what to expect when he steps out onto the hallowed turf... partner Gemma Bonner spent six years at Liverpool Ladies and captained them to titles in 2013 and '14.

"She told me what it's like to play at Anfield," said Isa, a Liverpool fan who plans to travel to Madrid for the Champions League Final next week.

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"It was a big moment because even though she's from Leeds she's a massive Liverpool fan.

"I said to her, 'It's my turn now!'

"The one bragging right I have is I played at Wembley first, in 2017 - she won the FA Cup a few weeks ago, which was great."

Bonner, an England international who now plays at Man City, was at the Camp Nou last weekend to see Isa and his Wigan side play in front of a record Super League crowd of 31,555.

Isa admits the occasion may have impacted on their flat performance in the 33-16 loss to Catalans - and is determined to ensure it doesn't happen against the Wolves.

"Last week, maybe we enjoyed it too much, the occasion, and it got to us a bit," he said. "We don't get it wrong two weeks in a row. It's a big focus to get the performance on the big stage, and this is a big stage.

"As a guy born in New Zealand who grew up in Australia, I never thought I'd have the opportunity of playing at the Nou Camp one week and Anfield the next. It's like a dream.

"But we need to focus on doing things right, that's the big message from our coaches, we didn't put ourselves in a good light last week.

"The club didn't deserve that performance and the fans who traveled didn't deserve that.

"There were no excuses. We didn't turn up with the right intent, against a good Catalans side who did turn up."

Isa says home life is easier because his partner is also involved in professional sport.

"We both get it," he said. "We know how quickly plans can change.

"There are no arguments because we know schedules are changing all the time, and it's easier because we eat the same, and when I've lost, she knows what I'm going through.

"I used to be very down about it but she's taught me not to bring it home - it's an important lesson she's taught me."