CASTLEFORD TIGERS’ Jesse Sene-Lefao concedes he didn’t even “understand” Magic Weekend originally but is now a big fan of the concept.
The New Zealander prop made his first appearance in it when Daryl Powell’s side beat Leeds Rhinos at Newcastle’s St James’ Park 12 months ago.
They return there this evening hoping to repeat that result as last season’s Grand Finalists go head-to-head once more.
Sene-Lefao admitted: “It is awesome.
“But I really didn’t understand the event at first. I didn’t know that everyone plays here over the two days.
“Once you know that, though, and then you walk off that bus and you just hear the whole stadium going crazy, it’s amazing.
I reckon the real buzz is when you step out here go into kick-off positions and you look up and see half this whole end all Cas fans. That’s a special feeling and one you can’t explain to people just how it feels.Jesse Sene-Lefao
“I reckon the real buzz is when you step out here go into kick-off positions and you look up and see half this whole end all Cas fans.
“That’s a special feeling and one you can’t explain to people just how it feels.
“But then you look elsewhere and it’s all different colours as well. It is special.”
The West Yorkshire rivals’ meeting is the denouement of the first day’s action when there could be more than 30,000 fans in the Premier League football side’s stadium.
However, as much as players tend to enjoy the unique atmosphere, gaining a result is imperative for Castleford.
They have lost three of their last four matches in all competitions to drop out of Super League’s top-four and be eliminated from the Challenge Cup by St Helens a week ago.
“It’s not just important to win here as it’s a special event but we need to win for our season as well,” said Sene-Lefao, who won the League Leaders’ Shield in his debut season last year after joining from Cronulla Sharks.
“I reckon this could be a good turning point for us; we could win in Newcastle and that could change everything.
“It’s a massive game for us as players and also the fans. That’s what makes it special.”
Castleford edged the last meeting between the sides 25-24 at Elland Road in March but, of course, Rhinos lifted the Super League title after prospering at Old Trafford.
“I missed that Elland Road game as I was injured so I am looking forward to this one now,” added the 28-year-old.
“I’m expecting Leeds to come at us and try and beat us straight away with a big start.
“For us it’s important to start well and match their pack; they have a very experienced pack and are playing well at the minute.”
Since that last contest, though, Castleford have seen Liam Watts, their big buy from Hull FC, make his debut and the off-loading prop has quickly established himself as a fulcrum of Daryl Powell’s side.
Sene-Lefao admitted: “He’s been a massive inclusion for our team.
“He’s doing a lot of work, playing big minutes and is probably our best forward at the moment.
“It’s good to have him on our team rather than playing against him.
“Now we just need to click all together to start getting some wins. There’d be no better place to do that than at Magic.”