Wigan Warriors star Bevan French has hailed the Magic Weekend concept despite his team losing in a thrilling encounter against St Helens in Newcastle in front of 36,821 spectators.
Saints came from behind to pip the Warriors 20-18 in style in the second game on Saturday at St James’ Park.
French, who scored two tries and had a hand in several others, was playing in his first Magic since arriving in Super League in 2019.
“It’s good for Super League in general, a game like that,” the winger said.
“The whole Magic weekend is very theatrical and it’s good for the sport, but obviously very sad for us the way it went down. But I think it’s a great concept and it’s great for the sport of rugby league.
“You can see the positives of Magic already – the atmosphere, it’s great. It’s growing the sport. There’s a lot more eyes on it and there’s a lot of entertaining Rugby League.
“A game like that just fits into the whole weekend. You try and take the positives out of those things – it’s very sad the way it went, how the game finished. We had a fair share of possession.
“Once we fix that, the territory comes into play and we have a bit more footy in their field. We were a man down for the last 16 minutes – things like that, it’s a great lesson to have now rather than at the back end of the year.”
French declined to blame Brad Singleton’s red card for the close defeat.
“I don’t know [if it deserved a red card],” the Australian said.
“At the time maybe I thought it was a tough call, but there are lessons to be learned. Even without the red card, where it happened, defending our try-line, we did that for most of the game.”
Playing on the wing, French combined well with Jai Field at fullback.
The outside back believes he is “very fortunate” to have a team-mate of Field’s calibre.
“It’s crazy,” he said.
“I’m just fortunate to be on the same team as someone like him. You don’t really have to practise things during the week, we’re on the same sort of wavelength.
“It’s just instinct and reaction, so to be able to play with someone like him on the same team is very rewarding, as you can see. The tries today weren’t really set plays or anything like that, it’s just reaction. So I’m very fortunate.”
French had a running battle on the St James’ Park turf with St Helens halfback Jack Welsby.
Welsby threw the ball at the winger after he scored a try in the corner, but the Australian played down the encounter.
“Nah it’s good, that’s just the type of player he is,” he said.
“Maybe it’s good for Rugby League, it gets a bit more attention for the game. It’s the little battles. It’s not a serious thing, but he’s a good person on the field, he’s competitive. It’s always good to come up against people like that.”
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.