By Kirsty Saynor
Andy Raleigh and his Wakefield Trinity Wildcats team-mates will be running out onto the Etihad Stadium pitch at Magic Weekend on Sunday with smiles on their faces when they take on neighbours, Castleford Tigers (12.30pm).
Having bounced back from a slow start to the season, the Wildcats have won their last two matches and Raleigh wants the positivity within the team to help continue their winning streak.
“We have hit some form now,” said Raleigh. “It’s been a difficult start to the season, we had been playing well in patches but never enough to win a game before we beat Hull and now the team spirit is running high.
“Castleford have been playing brilliantly. I went to watch them against Leeds and I think that the four-day turnaround hit them because if it weren’t for that, they might have beaten Leeds.
“For neutrals they are a good team to watch, they throw the ball around and are exciting. They used to call them ‘classy Cas’ when I was a kid and I think they are becoming that again.
“It’s going to be a really exciting game on Sunday, we are feeling positive. Getting those wins has been massive for us, you can’t under-estimate it, and we all have big smiles on our faces at the moment. We’ll have a big week in training and hopefully we can go out and put a good performance in.”
The prop has played for a number of Super League clubs and has many fond memories of Magic Weekends gone by. Raleigh says that the huge demand for tickets this year shows what an important platform it is for the sport.
“A highlight for me personally was when I played for Huddersfield and I scored a couple of tries when we played Warrington in Cardiff in 2008. When I first moved to Wakefield, we beat Castleford and that’s always a big deal,” he said.
“As a spectator, I remember the Hull derby in 2012, when David Hodgson had moved to Hull KR and he scored an amazing try to win the game. He’s a friend of mine and I have played at Hull KR so that was great to see.
“The place erupted and that’s the special thing for fans, they get to see more games and there is a carnival atmosphere. It is a unique event and a fantastic advert for the game
“The facilities are fantastic, it just adds to everything. It is great for players and for fans. I have friends who always mark the Magic Weekend in their diary as a big weekend and long may it continue.”
Tickets in the East Stand upper tier at Magic Weekend on Saturday May 17 cost £20 for adults and £10 for concessions. Tickets for Sunday May 18 costs from £25 for adults and £12.50 for concessions: weekend tickets cost from £40 (£20 concessions) and can be purchased by calling the 24-hour Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.