STAGING the Magic Weekend press conference in Manchester on the same afternoon as Manchester City’s victorious Premier League parade was not a great piece of timing for Matt Diskin.
The Bradford Bulls captain is an ardent Manchester United fan so having to endure the sight of thousands of blue flags, scarves and faces in the city centre was always going to be uncomfortable.
Having said that, it was maybe what he should have been expected given his history with one of rugby league’s main showpieces.
“The week before the ‘Tansey’ one I had a very bad accident in a very sensitive area so I was laid up in hospital,” recalled Diskin, of his days with Leeds Rhinos when they infamously defeated Bradford at Cardiff’s 2007 inaugural.
“A couple of years ago I dislocated my shoulder, too, so it’s been a bit of a curse for me. But it’s a fantastic event. I’m a Man United fan for my sins and it’s not been a great year for them.
“Man City have deserved everything they’ve achieved this year.”
Diskin’s experience is certain to be crucial in the weeks and months ahead as Bradford, eight points adrift of safety, strive to secure their Super League placing.
He will be 33 by the time next season starts – still relatively young in the modern game – but is contemplating retirement.
With plenty of business interests outside the sport, the Dewsbury-born hooker who won four titles with Leeds before moving to Bradford in 2011, has options.
“This could potentially be my last (season),” conceded Diskin.
“I’ve not made that decision yet, but I’m not the player I was five or six years ago.
“But what I can contribute is some leadership and some direction which does have an influence on the team. That is what we need at the moment because it’s a time of adversity.”
That adversity stems from a six-point deduction for entering administration earlier this year.
It leaves Bradford joint-bottom with London Broncos though an appeal – yet to be held – could earn some sort of reprieve.
“It would be fantastic if we get the points back and the powers that be are dragging their heels over it,” admitted Diskin.
“If we don’t get the points back then it doesn’t make it (avoiding relegation) impossible either.
“It’s a big task but it’s one that we are confident of doing.
“We’ve got a belief in ourselves as a team that we can achieve something this year. We’ve got to continue to believe that because externally nobody else does.”
Bradford, with new owner Marc Green delivering them from their financial mess, had picked up of late, securing a Challenge Cup quarter-final spot with victory over Catalan Dragons and then stunning Warrington Wolves.
They came crashing back down to earth last Sunday, however, demolished 50-0 by St Helens at Odsal, something they hope to quickly address when facing Huddersfield Giants in Manchester tomorrow.
“We haven’t done ourselves any favours,” admitted Diskin.
“We don’t play the game the smartest at times and we turn the ball over too easily.
“To consistently perform each week is hard, so we’ve had two brilliant performances in Warrington and Catalan and then just fell off against St Helens.
“So after a kick up the backside and a big spectacle this weekend, let’s get back on track.
“Huddersfield did a number on us at Odsal earlier this season and at the Magic Weekend last year.
“They’re a fantastic side and they finished top of the league last year.
“It has been a bit harder for them this time because everyone is probably gunning for them now because they set the standard last season.
“But for us we need to get back to winning ways and build some confidence back.”
Diskin’s battle with Huddersfield hooker Shaun Lunt should be a telling facet of tomorrow’s game and he needs his pack to give him a chance of prospering.
Diskin will have influential Luke Gale back in the side alongside him at scrum-half, however, after he missed that Saints debacle, and that should improve Bradford’s hopes of progress.
“We are literally living week to week at the moment as a team and as a squad,” he added.
“We have bumps and bruises and are low on numbers and we are preparing each week as if it’s our last.
“That’s the way it is at the moment. But we’re fighting.”