Derby thrills are Magic but I’m happy with life at Doncaster

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What do I remember from that first Magic Weekend? I knocked the kick-off on – I remember that much – so it wasn’t a very good start as I began my Hull KR career against Hull FC, the club I’d just left in pretty controversial circumstances.

It’s five years since that opening Millennium Magic in Cardiff and it does feel like a long time.

Obviously, it was a big game for everyone. It always is for the city of Hull but for the sport as a whole as well.

The Hull derby is a massive occasion and to have them all there – Leeds v Bradford, Wigan v Saints – in the same ground on the same weekend was great.

We did finish winning 14-10 so, in the end, it was a brilliant beginning for me: victory over our fiercest rivals just two weeks after actually leaving them.

It had been a strange fortnight building up to it all after all the drama that had happened with that move and my main memories are really of how hectic it had all been.

I just tried keeping myself to myself and stayed in the hotel for the majority of the time we were actually there in Cardiff.

I did, though, go out for a quiet meal following the game, ironically enough with the solicitor who’d moved me from Hull FC to Hull KR.

I just did what I had to do and it was nice to get a good result more than anything else. There was controversy all around that weekend given the famous finish between Leeds and Bradford which people still talk about.

With Wigan v Saints and the Hull derby they’re all brilliant games to take on the road giving everyone a chance to see what we all see twice a year.

The Magic Weekend is a good concept. It will be better now at the Etihad rather than in Wales or Scotland where crowds won’t ever be as high as around here.

Rugby league’s not massively well known in Manchester but I’m sure it’ll attract a few more fans than Cardiff and Edinburgh for what promises to be some quality games again.

As for who will win Saturday night’s derby, I backed Rovers last time (on Good Friday) and so learned my lesson!

I’m now going to go with form and consistency and, so, say Hull by 10 points. They won at London last weekend but didn’t perform well and I reckon they’ll have had a tough week from the coach.

I expect a response from them but this is the derby and form goes out of the window.

As for me, barring Sunday’s loss at Workington, it’s been going great with my new club Doncaster.

I saw my old Hull team-mate Gaz Raynor retire recently after dropping down to the Championship with Featherstone and admitting not being able to get up for part-time football.

But it’s absolutely not the same for me. In fact, I’d go so far as saying if someone offered me a Super League contract today I’d turn it down.

I’m enjoying my football in Championship One so much at Doncaster where things are a little bit more relaxed and less rigorous than the top flight.

It’s revived my love for the game but it’s not just on the field; I love the community role I’m doing in schools and around the town too.

We’ve only lost twice. Once at Barrow, who have now gone top and are well-fancied for promotion, and that game at Workington which, I have to say, was more disappointing.

We were 18-0 up but somehow contrived to lose 45 points – and the game – in the next 65 minutes. All in all, though, I’m enjoying the game once more.

And that’s something I didn’t think would ever happen again.

Interview by Dave Craven

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