NRL round nine is Magic Round (May 9-11), the eagerly anticipated weekend at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium (or Lang Park for the diehards). Inspired by Super League’s Magic Weekend, it will be a big test. While sellouts for Broncos games and Origin are a given, how will Queenslanders go with eight games in four days – especially those involving ‘less attractive’ teams? How will the Suncorp Stadium surface cope? Heaven help the Sydney Roosters, Canberra, South Sydney and North Queensland, who close out the round with a Sunday double-header.
I’m not knocking the concept: the hype and novelty factor may draw in fans who don’t get to the footy very often, and if any city deserves more NRL games, it’s Brisbane. They’ve been crying out for a second team since the Crushers were booted (maybe the Brisbane Bombers will arrive one day) and a successful weekend will embiggen Queensland’s self-proclaimed ‘heartland’ title.
So why not spread it out to celebrate all of Queensland, rather than just Brisbane?
Have your big money games at Suncorp, but take the rest across the state. North Queensland and Gold Coast get an extra home game and regional Queensland gets more footy.
Let’s look a hypothetically reworked Magic Round draw, with a few games moved around.
Thursday night (8pm): NZ Warriors v St. George-Illawarra, Suncorp Stadium.
Friday night (6pm): Wests Tigers v Penrith, Barlow Park, Cairns.
Friday night (8pm): Manly-Warringah v Brisbane, Suncorp Stadium.
Saturday afternoon (3pm): Canterbury-Bankstown v Newcastle, Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba.
Saturday night (5:30pm): South Sydney v North Queensland, 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville.
Saturday night (7:30pm): Melbourne v Parramatta, Suncorp Stadium.
Sunday afternoon (2pm): Gold Coast v Cronulla-Sutherland, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast.
Sunday afternoon (4pm): Sydney Roosters v Canberra, Suncorp Stadium.
That leaves the prime time Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon games at Suncorp (great for Channel Nine and Fox League, with drawcards Brisbane, Melbourne, St. George-Illawarra and Sydney Roosters featuring), and the other four games at Cairns, Toowoomba, Townsville and the Gold Coast. A decent spread and a great chance to show loyal Queensland footy fans some love.
Will Magic Round flourish beyond 2019 and maybe branch out as this pipe dream suggests? Or will it be too much of a good thing? Watch this space…