|Dacia Magic Weekend|
|Venue: Anfield, Liverpool Date: Saturday, 25 May & Sunday, 26 May Kick-off: Saturday from 14:00 BST and Sunday from 13:00 BST Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC local radio and BBC Sport website|
The rugby league posts are up at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium as the annual Super League festival – the Magic Weekend – heads for Merseyside with six matches over two days.
If you are wondering what to expect, wonder no more.
Here are five great reasons to get involved at the Magic Weekend.
1. This is Anfield
You don’t even need to be a football fan to appreciate the significance of Anfield – it is a sporting venue steeped in history and teeming with atmosphere.
For starters, there is the world-famous Kop, the scene of so many famous footballing adventures for Liverpool fans, and the end in which St Helens’ England wing Tommy Makinson scored his hat-trick try against New Zealand last autumn.
It took its name from the Spion Kop, the hill in South Africa where many soldiers died during the Boer War at the start of the 20th Century. At one time 25,000 people could stand on its terracing, but that figure is now around 12,000.
The new Main Stand is also pretty impressive, hosting more seats than some of Super League’s ground capacities alone, lifting the stadium’s current capacity to 54,074.
It is definitely a ‘bucket list’ type of stadium to tick off.
2. The repeat of the Grand Final
Of course, the action on the field is the most important thing, and the fixture selection plays a key role in ensuring decent entertainment.
Thankfully, the Super League has delivered, throwing together last season’s Grand Final pairing – pitting a Wigan side struggling to match last season’s achievements against a Warrington side (Saturday, 19:00 BST) hoping to avenge their loss.
We were given a sneak preview of just how good these games are when the Wolves gained a little bit of revenge for last season’s showpiece loss by dumping the Warriors out of the Challenge Cup a couple of weeks ago.
Watch the tries above – it might just whet the appetite.
3. Red V, red hot
St Helens have been the stand-out team this season, scoring 93 tries, and even neutral fans have the chance to witness their outstanding talents when they take on Castleford in the final game of the weekend (Sunday, 18:00 BST).
Justin Holbrook’s side lead the table by six points, and have lost just once – in Perpignan against Catalans Dragons – from their 15 league games.
“Castleford like to move the ball and they play in an attractive style,” Saints head coach Justin Holbrook told BBC Radio Merseyside.
“They’re getting some players back now and they had a good win over the weekend against Leeds.”
Daryl Powell’s fifth-placed Tigers are no slouches either and love to throw the ball around.
“St Helens are in good form. We will play the top four teams three times this year at some point and it’s just how it’s happened,” Castleford prop Liam Watts told BBC Radio Leeds.
“Saints will be in great form come Sunday no matter what, so we’ve got to up our game against them.”
4. Basement battle
Few would have believed that Leeds Rhinos would be battling it out at the bottom end of Super League come Magic Weekend when the season began.
Big-name signings such as Trent Merrin, Konrad Hurrell and Tui Lolohea were supposed to guide the summer era masters towards trophies, not trouble.
However, they have four wins from 15 games in the league and out of the Challenge Cup at the hands of lower-league Bradford.
It is a run of form that cost coach David Furner his job, and interim boss Richard Agar leads them into Sunday’s game against fellow strugglers London Broncos (Sunday, 15:30 BST).
The Broncos are coached by ex-Rhino Danny Ward, who along with his former player and coach dad David, is intrinsically linked with the Leeds club.
His coaching trajectory has been impressive, having produced an unlikely promotion to the top tier last season and now they continue to scrap for their lives.
It will be a interesting ‘four-pointer’ for both clubs when they slug it out on the lush Anfield turf.
“It just shows the competition this year and how tight it is, no one is automatically ruled out of being in the bottom half of the league,” Ward told BBC Radio London.
“It’s the evenness and strength of Super League competition that if you’re not ‘on’ on any given day, you’re going to get turned over.
“It’s tough on Leeds but they’ve got some good personnel there and I’m sure they will be working hard to fix it.”
5. Rugby league for all…
Rugby league is a game for all, and this has never been clearer with the advent of Learning Disability Rugby League and Physical Disability Rugby League.
The nearby Stanley Park will be taken over by both versions of the game of rugby league, and it will also be played during half-time of two of the Super League games at Anfield.
“There are 12 teams that have signed up for it and 10 teams playing at Magic Weekend,” John Hughes of Community Integrated Care, who set-up the LDRL, told the BBC 5 Live rugby league podcast.
“There’s a festival outside during game two of the Magic Weekend, and during game three on both days [a match will take place on the pitch] at half-time, you can imagine what it will mean to those individuals.