Scots hope for Magic moments

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The success of Super League's Magic Weekend in Edinburgh will need to be assessed on several different levels.

The first box to be ticked is getting seven games played on Murrayfield in reasonable conditions. Memories are still fresh of the ground under water on the eve of the 2002 Challenge Cup final, but the Scottish Rugby Union are adamant that the drainage is much better these days and that the rain over the weekend is not particularly threatening.

The second target for the Rugby League, although they are loathe to admit it, is to improve on the total attendances on the two previous weekends in Cardiff – 59,000 in 2007 and 63,000 last year. It has been switched to Edinburgh largely because of the Millennium Stadium's lack of interest in promoting the event locally, with few Welsh supporters there.

The SRU has been far more pro-active, but it remains to be seen how many Scots will take the bait. The ticket prices have been pitched at a realistic level, starting at just £10 for the weekend. In the current economic climate, however, the League would be happy with 60,000.

The third measure of the adventure's worth will be whether it stimulates extra rugby league activity north of the border. There is a modest club competition in Scotland and the League has recently installed two coaches. There was a Scots team in the World Cup last autumn, although it was largely composed of qualified players from England and Australia.

But Nigel Wood, the RFL's chief executive and the driving force behind this venture, can see the day when Scotland could have a team in the Co-operative Championship and even in Super League. That will look a more realistic ambition if this weekend draws an enthusiastic response.

There is no shortage of potentially exciting pairings, although the one that will have most appeal on the first day is St Helens-Wigan. There is a possibility Wigan will leave out the find of the season, Shaun Ainscough, despite his 17 tries so far. Significantly, Saints have the game's most accomplished centre, Matt Gidley, back in action. Tony Puletua also returns for Saints, while Keiron Cunningham, a survivor of that Murrayfield final seven years ago, makes his 450th appearance for the club.Robbie Paul makes his 400th British appearance, for Salford in the opening game against Harlequins.

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