The Liam Farrell Column: Move Magic, sure... but not the Cup Final
I was up at St James' Park on Monday for the media launch, and it really whet the appetite for this weekend.
I think we’re in for a terrific Magic Weekend.
I had a few media interviews on Monday – Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford – another ex-St Pat’s junior – was also there, and a few people asked me for my thoughts about the concept itself.
I told them all that I love it. It’s something unique that other sports don’t have, all the fans interact, and so why not celebrate it?
It’s a new ground for the fans, and all players want to play on the big stages, and Newcastle’s St James’ Park is certainly one of those.
It’ll be my first game playing at the venue.
I missed last year with a rib injury and, the year before, I cracked my jaw on Micky McIlorum’s tough head a game or two before.
So that’s another reason I’m looking forward to playing at Newcastle – and from comments made this week, the Magic Weekend venue may be moved again next year.
I know London has been mentioned. While I think that would be a good idea, I also think the RFL need to keep in mind the fans, and how much the weekend costs.
Maybe if they could get it going were the venue changed each year, it would keep it fresh – I think that’d be a good idea.
Mentioning stadium moves, there’s been talk this week the RFL may consider moving the Challenge Cup Final away from Wembley.
It would be disappointing if that happened. For me, the final and Wembley go hand-in-hand – it’s part of what makes the occasion so special.
But back to this weekend, this is the first time we’ve met Warrington in the Magic Weekend.
We’ve had some terrific games against them in the past and this is shaping up as another.
They are playing themselves down a little bit and suggesting they have not hit form yet, but I think they have turned the corner – the results suggest as much – and they have a lot of quality in their side, and so do we.
We’ve done well in past Magic Weekend games. There’s no secret behind it.
Waney does nothing differently, I think as players we like to think we rise to the occasion and this feels like there’s more than two points at stake.
We should have a couple of players back in our squad – I imagine Joel Tomkins is happy to see George Williams back!
George pulled out of Sunday’s Cup game at Swinton with a migraine, and I don’t think Joel was overly keen at playing in the halves.
Given the circumstances, I thought he did well, and it was one of those days when we needed to just get the job done. They came out quite strong and broke us down early on, but as the game went on we put pressure on them, they came up with errors and we capitalised.
It was nice to see another young lad get his debut, and I thought Callum Field did alright when he got on. Josh Ganson is going well, too, and Liam Marshall and Tom Davies have earned new deals.
Our young players are not only doing a good job, but the experience they are gaining now will help us out down the track.