Boots 'n' All looks ahead to the Magic Weekend
Paul Cullen and Shaun McRae told Boots 'n' All that the Magic Weekend is something to cherish.
Last Updated: 23/05/13 11:00am
Seven Super League matches take place at the Etihad Stadium this weekend - four on the Saturday and three on the Sunday - in what many feel is the highlight of the season.
Amid a festival atmosphere, Catalan Dragons face London Broncos, Castleford play Wakefield, there's a Hull derby, St Helens take on Warrington before Sunday's feast lines up with Saford v Widnes, Bradford v Huddersfield and a mouth-watering finale between Leeds and Wigan.
Cullen told Boots 'n' All: "I love the concept for many reasons. The main one is that it gives everyone a chance to have a look at what it's like in the big time. There are 14 teams in Super League and seven of those have been in finals in the modern era.
"That means that 50% of the business hasn't been near it and whether you're a player, a coach or a supporter, it's half our business that deserves to have a look at what it's like to go with the big boys.
"You go to a fantastic stadium, whether it's Cardiff or Edinburgh. I think this one in Manchester is the best one because it's far more accessible to supporters of our game. You get to see what it's like on those big occasions.
"I'm delighted with the whole concept and the way it's progressed."
Hull FC director of rugby Shaun McRae was similarly enthused and stressed how important it is for the fans to enjoy themselves during what proved a sun-soaked event last year.
He added: "It's unique. The thing about the weather is that last year we saw so many points scored because the heat actually got to virtually every team. Defences were flailing.
"When you had the football, you were able to play expansive rugby league and you were able to take advantage of the defences not moving up quite as well. The weather will play an important part, whether it's hot, cool or wet.
"The other one that stands out for me is the opportunity for players. They'll be playing not only in front of their supporters and their opponents' supporters, but in front of supporters from other clubs. That's something we don't see very often.
"It's a great opportunity for the fans to embrace the weekend. You go there to watch four games on Saturday and three on Sunday. If you're not at the ground, you've got the opportunity to watch the games live on Sky Sports. It's unique in sports.
"There's so much to like about the Magic Weekend concept. Having it in Manchester is a reward for those people who support rugby league in its heartlands. London and Catalans would travel normally anyway and they're the only teams that would have to stay overnight.
"It's treated like just another game by the players because you prepare to play a match against your opposition like you would anywhere to get two competition points. I think it means a bit more to the supporters."