Jordan Turner: Castleford Tigers star on his special slice of Magic Weekend history

ONLY five players who featured in the inaugural Magic Weekend in 2007 are still playing in Super League today.

When the concept took its first tentative steps in Cardiff, Huddersfield Giants’ Kevin Brown, Wigan Warriors’ Thomas Leuluai, St Helens hooker James Roby and a young winger by the name of Ryan Hall making his debut for Leeds Rhinos, all appeared.

The other name in that quintet, though, is Jordan Turner who, at the time, was just 18 and playing only the eighth game of his senior career for hometown Salford City Reds.

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Tomorrow he returns to Magic in Newcastle where, wearing Castleford Tigers colours, he will also mark his 350th career appearance, ironically against the club where it all started for him.

Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, Turner recalled: “I’d made my debut the season before and we got beat heavily 
50-18 by Warrington Wolves that day at Magic.

“But I ended up going off with an HIA and spent the night in Cardiff hospital!

“The bus went home without me. I don’t remember who caught me. It was flush on the head. I was carrying the ball and it was my first ever head knock.

“It was pretty innocuous but I ended up with some blurred vision and needing to get checked out so it was a bad Magic for me.”

Jordan Turner, of Betfred Super League side Castleford Tigers. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe/JPIMedia.

Turner faced Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson in a star-studded side that included Lions prop Adrian Morley, Lee Briers and Kiwi trio Henry Fa’afili, Paul Rauhihi and Vinnie Anderson.

“They’d invested a lot in trying to get to the Challenge Cup and Grand Finals,” he added.

“Warrington had a really good side. It was a good occasion. I’d been to the Millennium Stadium a couple of times to watch the Challenge Cup final so I enjoyed the first part of it all, at least, playing in such a big ground.”

Salford had reached the play-offs the previous year under Karl Harrison but ended up being relegated in 2017.

Millennium Magic: Huddersfield Giants v Wakefield Wildcats Richard Moore of Wakefield hands off Kevin Brown back in 2007 (Picture: Steve Riding)

“It was one of the strangest years of my career in that I just don’t know why we never really got going,” Turner recalled.

The 32 year-old is hoping for a better experience this time around for Castleford and what a stage to mark his own personal achievement.

Turner – who has also represented Hull FC, St Helens, Huddersfield Giants and England Knights – said: “I am genuinely one of those who, if you’d have told me when I was a kid I’d play just one game of rugby league, I’d be the happiest kid on earth.

“But to have played 350 appearances at the top level is a bit mind-blowing. It seems to have gone in the flash of an eye. People always tell you it’s a short career and it’s not forever. When I was younger I’d be thinking ‘yeah, whatever.’

Hull FC's Jordan Turner on the attack at the Magic Weekend in Manchester (Picture: Dave Williams)

“But now I’m coming to the back end I do appreciate every game and really appreciate the milestones as well.

“It’s also repaying my family, my mum and grandad who did so much for me to get me to the position I’m in now.”

Turner has already helped Castleford reach Wembley where they lost out to Saints in July’s Challenge Cup final.

He is now keen to help Tigers push on to Old Trafford and tomorrow is pivotal in terms of securing a top-six play-off place with just three games remaining.

Castleford’s four-game winning run ended with Monday’s 22-0 loss against Wigan, a result which left them nervous in sixth.

“We were actually aiming for fourth spot so we were bitterly disappointed,” added Turner, one of the signings of the 2021 season after joining from Huddersfield and scoring 15 tries for Tigers, largely as a makeshift winger.

Castleford's Jordan Turner celebrates the semi-final win over Warrington (Picture: SWPix.com)

“But this week has become even more important now. It feels like we’re already in play-off territory; every game now is a play-off game for us.

“I think we have to win more than just the Salford game. The game the week after at Hull KR will be massive as they’re aiming for the six as well.

“We’d been on a pretty good streak and, it might sound a bit mad, but I don’t think Wigan was the worst game to lose.

“We were really poor but it might give us a chance to refocus and make us realise we need to be pushing harder and playing a lot better than what we have.”

Ironically, Turner, who is also just three short of 100 Super League tries, could be in direct opposition against a fellow veteran of Magic I.

Former England stand-off Brown, 36, has missed the last two Salford games with a foot injury but, nearing retirement at the end of the season, is now fit and in their 21-man squad.

With Castleford seeing Danny Richardson drop out due to concussion and already without regular No6 Jake Trueman due to season-ending back surgery, Turner could switch from the wing to stand-off to face Salford.

Hooker Paul McShane, winger James Clare, Jacques O’Neill and Lewis Bienek are all recalled.

Prop Liam Watts starts a two-game ban and winger Greg Eden is out with a hamstring issue.