Isa tribute to youngster Pearce-Paul

Willie Isa is willing to play anywhere for Wigan, especially if it helps the club’s young bucks gain valuable experience.

The New Zealand-born former Samoa international, who served Penrith Panthers, Melbourne Storm, Castleford and Widnes before joining the Warriors in 2016, started out as a winger before moving into the second row.

But because of injuries to team-mates and the form of others, the 32-year-old has spent the bulk of this season in the centres. And he is enjoying both the challenge and the form of youngster Kai Pearce-Paul, 20, who is making his mark in the pack.

“I’ve always been like that since I’ve been at the club,” said Isa, twice a Grand Final winner with Wigan.

“I’ve been playing back row the last couple of years and centre all this year, really – I haven’t even seen the back row now and probably won’t because Kai Pearce-Paul is killing it!

“But fair play to him and I love it. That’s what’s brilliant about this sport, there is always someone going to take your spot or they’re always challenging.

“We’ve got Liam Farrell, Mr Consistent, on the other side, so it’s a great back row and we’re just waiting for John Bateman to get his boots back on again.

“It’s important to embrace each role as it comes and we’ve got the mentality at this club that wherever you play, you’ve got to do your job, and I’m doing the best I can in this role.”

Isa, who is believed to be close to agreeing a new contract, says he’s happy to mentor the more junior players.

“It’s just the experience of where they’ve never been and it’s an everyday thing with me, the mentality of trying to work hard and get everything out, whether it’s a stretch class, a recovery session or a little skill block,” he explained.

“It’s exciting and these guys are getting opportunities, and if you look at other clubs, I don’t think they’d play all these young lads at one time.

“We embrace it and we love it. And that’s what this club is about, bringing through the youth from our system and putting them in at the deep end.”

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