A heavyweight clash is set to close day one of Magic Weekend 2018 as Castleford Tigers face Leeds Rhinos in a rematch of last season’s Grand Final – and last year’s Magic Weekend match. Representing the Tigers is Mike Frain, founder and admin of the Tigers RLFC Community Forum and a Cas fan of over thirty years. As for Leeds, Paul Wilson is the man with the answers and, as an admin of the biggest Leeds Rhinos supporters group on Facebook and having watched the team for decades, he is well placed to comment on the club…
1) We are around halfway through the season now – how do you feel your team is doing?
Tigers: Castleford haven’t set the world on fire like last season, but we’re in and around the top 4 and that will do me for now.
Rhinos: Leeds are hurting themselves at the moment with slow starts and giving themselves too much to do to win games. We are potentially still capable of a top four finish but must improve.
2) What is the best match you’ve been to or seen this season of your team and why?
Tigers: Catalans at home. To nil any team in this league is a very good job. OK, Catalans have been woeful but I’ll take a 41-0 against anyone.
Rhinos: I wasn’t actually there in person but the win away to Saints was probably our best performance this season.
3) Who has been the team that have impressed you most so far and why?
Tigers: Saints have impressed me – I bet everyone is saying that! – and I hate to say it so have Wigan. They have ground wins out so far.
Rhinos: St Helens. They look really strong and it could take a good team to stop them reaching another Grand Final.
4) Who is your team’s player of the season so far?
Tigers: Paul McShane for me. He’s been outstanding this season and, now with the injury to Gale, McShane will have to step up again.
Rhinos: Richie Myler has probably been our best player this year. He controls a game really well for us when he’s playing well.
5) Which player from your Magic Weekend opponents would you like to see in your team’s shirt?
Tigers: Hmm…I’d take Joel Moon at the moment or Kallum Watkins. They’re both quality players.
Rhinos: From Cas it would be good to have a Luke Gale or Paul McShane in Leeds’ team. I think Leeds have always lacked a good tactical kicker and a player who can bag a drop goal to win a tight game as Gale can. Plus with McShane, I always rated him when he was at Leeds and although we now have Parcell in the squad, Macca has proved his full potential since he went to Cas.
6) What are your hopes for your Magic Weekend match – do you think you can/will win?
Tigers: Magic has been great for Cas over the years and, depending on injuries, I hope another win will be in our back pocket once the final whistle goes!
Rhinos: At Magic Weekend we play Castleford which, again, will be a tough game. It’ll be interesting to see how Cas cover the loss of Luke Gale for the next couple of months.
7) How do you think your season will end up?
Tigers: I’m hoping for two semi finals at least and would love to be at either final. I’d take that and a top four finish – not a lot, really!
Rhinos: If Leeds can fix up the slow start issues we are still capable of a top four finish and once there anything can happen – as we proved last year by beating Cas at Old Trafford to be crowned champions.
8) What do you think of Magic Weekend?
Tigers: I love Magic Weekend and I think it’s a great showpiece event, too. I’ve lost count how many I’ve been to but in last three I’ve taken over three hundred supporters there via the Castleford Tigers forum.
Rhinos: I love the Magic Weekend concept. It’s a real festival of rugby league where fans of all clubs can mingle. The fan zone is always fun and the games themselves have a different feel to normal weekly rounds. I always enjoy the weekend and will be there all weekend in Newcastle once again this year.