Magic Weekend moves back to the Millennium

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The Independent Online

Next season will start with a weekend of seven matches at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, the Rugby League has announced.

The Magic Weekend is returning to its original home, albeit in February rather than on the May bank holiday weekend over which it has been played in both Cardiff and Edinburgh.

"The stadium's closed roof means that fans can watch all seven matches in comfort," said Super League's director of events, Sally Bolton.

The event is returning to Cardiff after two years at Murrayfield. Slowly shrinking attendances for the weekend have persuaded clubs to try it as a curtain-raiser for the season. The fixture format for the matches on 12-13 February is yet to be announced, but it is thought there will be a return to being based on local derbies.

Turning to this weekend, Wigan will carry off the prize they have earned by their consistency this season if they can beat Huddersfield tomorrow night. Victory at the DW Stadium will guarantee them the League Leaders Shield and first place going into the play-offs, having lost just four Super League games so far.

They will have to do it without Martin Gleeson, who is recuperating after a hernia operation. That could mean a chance for Stefan Marsh, recalled from his loan at Widnes this week, though Karl Pryce is also in the squad.

The Giants, secure in a play-off spot, can call on their strongest squad for weeks, with Brett Hodgson, Keith Mason, David Fa'alogo and Luke Robinson ready to return.

Salford, at home to Hull KR, have continued their ambitious recruitment for next season by signing Iafeta Palea'aesina from Wigan and the Wakefield hooker, Tevita Leo-Latu, who is a direct replacement for Malcolm Alker when he retires from playing to concentrate on coaching.

Jason Demetriou will play his final home game for Wakefield against the Challenge Cup finalists, Warrington. The 35-year-old Australian has not been offered a contract for next season, after six years with the club.

In today's Super League fixture in Perpignan, the Catalan Dragons and Harlequins can go a long way towards determining which of them will finish bottom of the table. Quins have Luke Williamson, out with a foot injury since June, back in their pack.

The other French side competing in Britain, Toulouse Olympique, can cling to their hopes of making the Championship play-offs if they win at Leigh this evening. A point against York tomorrow will get the South Wales Scorpions into the Championship 1 play-offs at their first attempt. Hunslet will clinch first place in the division if they win at Blackpool.