Let’s see what was said ahead of day two of this year’s Betfred Super League Magic Weekend in Newcastle, with all three of Sunday’s games live on Sky Sports…
Asiata wants the Leopards to continue to defy the doubters
At the start of the year, few people had expectations for Leigh Leopards in the Super League beyond the battle to avoid relegation back to the Betfred Championship. At the midway point of the regular season though, the promoted side were fifth and firmly in the mix for a place in the play-offs.
Their impressive first half of the campaign was capped by a 30-12 win over leaders Warrington Wolves last week, setting up a 2022 that saw them win promotion back to the top flight with victory over Batley Bulldogs in the Championship Grand Final and lifting. the 1895 Cup.
That is due in no small part to owner Derek Beaumont’s investment in trying to build a squad capable of ensuring Leigh become an established Super League club at the fourth attempt, and the former player of NRL’s John Asiata was not surprised to see the team prove the doubters wrong.
“I’ve always believed since pre-season and the signings we made, I’m very confident about what we can achieve this year,” said Asiata, who has been part of Leopards’ success in 2022. Sky Sports.
“I am very confident that the goal is always to be in the top six, relegation is never the question, and it is a matter of how we build on last year.
“The foundation we laid last year was perfect for Super League participation, and the boys who have been in the squad have done an excellent job for what we want to achieve this year.
Warrington’s Riley Dean and Leigh’s John Asiata look ahead to an exciting Magic Weekend with full coverage live on Sky Sports.
Leigh will be looking to continue this form when they open Day 2 of the Magic Weekend in the Super League at Newcastle, with their opponents being the side who firmly find themselves in the relegation mire at Wakefield Trinity (12pm ).
Wakefield are yet to win a game in 2023, but Asiata insists the Leopards will not take their opponents lightly and they know how desperate they are to finally get a win on the board.
“The good thing about our team at the moment is that we are in a place where we enjoy our footy, but we are very grounded and very humble about what we have achieved so far,” said Asiata.
“I think what we’re doing now is proving to people that as long as your team is connected, as long as your team works hard every week and prepares well, the show will take care of itself.”
Ritson is ready for the big stage
This time last year, Tee Ritson was preparing for Barrow Raiders to host Widnes Vikings in the Championship. Now, the leading try-scorer of 2022 in the second tier is preparing to take the field at St James’ Park with the reigning Super League champions.
The Cumbrian winger, who signed with St Helens on a season-long loan from the Raiders in the winter, has made eight appearances so far with two tries to his name and also claimed a rare solo score in pre-season win over NRL side Places called St George Illawarra in Australia.
Ritson is loving life in the Super League so far and is relishing the prospect of playing at home to Newcastle United on Sunday, when Saints take on Huddersfield Giants in the second game of the day (2.15pm).
“Last year they had a great late win against Wigan, but they all said the same thing to me,” Ritson said. Sky Sports.
A brilliant offload from Konrad Hurrell set up Tee Ritson as he sealed a comprehensive win for St Helens against the St George Illawarra Dragons
“It’s a very good weekend, it’s a good experience as a player and it’s a big stage to be able to play on.”
St Helens have been unable to build on their promising start to 2023 which saw them beat NRL champions Penrith Panthers on their home turf in the World Club Challenge, and they head to Newcastle outside the play-off places. and looking to boost their quest for a fifth straight Super League title.
Magic Weekend rivals Huddersfield have also followed suit, currently sitting ninth in a year where they are expected to continue after the 2022 play-offs, and winger Jermaine McGillvary is eager to return to form.
“It’s been a decent start, but the last couple of weeks haven’t been good,” McGillvary said Sky Sports. “We may not be where we want to be, but we still have a long way to go and get to where we want to be.”
Smith began to make his mark at Hull FC
It’s been a mixed start to life under Tony Smith for Hull FC, but until last week’s 29-22 defeat against Salford Red Devils the Black and Whites were on a four-game winning streak that seemed indicates that the fate has begun. bend
Head coach Smith now finds himself up against one of his former sides in Warrington Wolves in the final match of the Magic Weekend (4.30pm), a team looking to bounce back from defeat as well as after defeat in last week against Leigh.
Center Liam Sutcliffe is in no doubt that Hull FC have turned around, despite the loss to the Red Devils, and believes that what Smith is trying to bring to the squad is having an impact.
“We’re really starting to build on what he’s trying to put on us,” Sutcliffe said Sky Sports. “It’s never an overnight fix and it always takes time, but I think you can see now that everyone is buying in.
Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin shares his memories of Magic Weekend and admits he has changed his mind about the concept of his career.
“Every game we have crack and testing teams, so everyone is building well on what he is trying to bring to the club.
“You always have to pay attention and he chose really good things, but I think everyone enjoyed it and bought what he built today.”
Warrington’s loss to Leigh was only their third of the season in Super League after opening the campaign with eight wins on the bounce and future Wolves half-back Riley Dean was unfazed by the defeat.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong,” Dean said Sky Sports. “Halfway through the year, the lads picked up a few niggles and a knock here and there, but it’s back on the horse this weekend and will be back again.”
Watch every match on Day 2 of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend live on Sky Sports Arena from 11.30am on Sunday, June 4. All the action will also be streamed on NOW TV.