NEW signing Willie Isa is delighted with the welcome he has received from supporters and his new team-mates at Castleford Tigers after arriving from Australia on Friday.
The 21-year-old former Melbourne Storm three-quarter (pictured right) was unable to make his Tigers debut in the pre-season game with Batley on Sunday, but was introduced to the fans at half-time and is chomping at the bit to get on the pitch to show them what he can do.
He told the Express: “I cannot wait to get going. I arrived on Friday and it’s taken me a few days time to adjust to the time and sleep patterns, but everything’s good now.
“It’s a big opportunity for me and hopefully I can take it.
“Everyone’s been excellent since I got here, the players, the coaches and the fans.
“I knew Nick Youngquest before coming here. I was a junior at Penrith Panthers and he was playing first grade at the time. It’s good to see him again and get that connection going.
“I met all the boys on Friday morning and they are pretty easy to get along with, they’ve made me feel welcome.
“I knew the way Terry Matterson operates and always knew it would be a good organised club so I wasn’t surprised when I first came here.
“Everyone’s good from the office staff to the coaching staff and the good bunch of lads in the team.
“Terry was one of the big reasons for me joining Castleford and I’m looking forward to working under his coaching.
“I’d like to improve as a player, but also help the team move forward. I prefer to play centre, but I can play wing and I’ll slot in anywhere for the team.
“I signed a one-year contract and want to see how it goes, but while I’m here I will do the best I can and hopefully be successful and stay longer.”
Isa is looking forward to experiencing the famous Castleford big match atmosphere and is expected to take his place in the starting line-up for this Sunday’s final warm-up game against Hull at the Probiz Coliseum.
He said: “I’ve heard the fans are real passionate and create a great atmosphere here so I’m looking forward to sampling it.
“It’s good for the team when the fans are so passionate and get behind the players.
“The reception from the fans was good at the game on Sunday. Back in Australia I’ve never seen everyone clap at once so it took me by surprise a little.
“I’m hoping to play against Hull. Every game I want to play and it will give me a first taste of playing at the ground.
“It was good to watch the team for the first time against Batley and the young boys did well. It was good to see them have a go.
“I’ve seen the depth the club’s got with the juniors and a lot of players round my age so I see the future here as very bright.
“It’s a club going forward. There’s some good things with the new ground on the go and hopefully we can do our bit on the field.”
Isa is excited at the prospect of the first game of the new season against local rivals Wakefield Wildcats.
He added: “I can’t wait for the opening Super League match. It’s a big game, a derby.
“I’ve kind of circled that Wakefield game because it’s round one and you want to be off to a winning start.
“We’ve got the Hull game first and will take it one game at a time. Hopefully the momentum will start there.
“I’ve heard some bits and pieces about the Wakefield game and how important it is to the fans and the Leeds game as well. I am aware they’re rivals so they should be good games to play in.
“The team is just focussing on the first round rather than saying where we can finish for the season. We have our goals as a team and I know it’s an old cliché, but taking it one week at a time is the way to do it.”
Willie Isa is the guest at a race night taking place at the Probiz Coliseum next Thursday, February 3. Admission is free.