SUPPORTERS of all 14 Super League clubs will descend on Manchester this Saturday and Sunday as the Magic Weekend hits the Etihad Stadium.
The colourful event is back at the home of Manchester City for a second consecutive year after more than 60,000 fans enjoyed sunshine and scintillating Rugby League 12 months ago.
But for Huddersfield Giants and England prop Eorl Crabtree it’s another opportunity to impress England head coach Steve McNamara, and cement his place in the Elite Training Squad ahead of Rugby League World Cup 2013.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to market yourself for a place in the England team,” said Crabtree, whose side face Bradford on Sunday at 5.15pm.
“Everybody is focused on performing well for their clubs, but with it being World Cup year, the players are also trying to cement their spot.
“Those guys with that focus are the ones who’ll get picked, as even the ones currently in the squad know that they have to remain consistent to keep their place.
“Everybody is vying for selection, and the Magic Weekend is a great window for all of the players to show what they can do.”
Crabtree spent three days in camp with his England team-mates at the beginning of last week, at the Elite Training Squad’s base in Loughborough.
And the imposing prop says he is already feeling the benefits.
“It’s always good to be in camp and get together with the boys,” said Crabtree.
“To get back on the field with them and go through one or two plays is important, and it’s great to see the other boys in action.
“We have a great facility and superb staff within the England set-up, and the players benefit immensely from this time together, so it’s crucial we get together fairly frequently in World Cup year.”
And while 14 clubs prepare for battle in the blue half of Manchester this weekend, 14 nations will vie for a spot in the Rugby League World Cup 2013 Final, which will take place across the city at Old Trafford on November 30.
Crabtree admits to having one eye on this autumn’s tournament, and in particular the clash between England and Ireland at the John Smith’s Stadium on November 2.
“It’s always good to play on your home patch and I’ll be seeking to utilise the home comforts of a familiar ground if I’m selected to play.
“It’d be a bit strange getting a coach to my own stadium, but I just want to play, and it’d be great to have the Giants fans behind me and the England boys for that game.”
Tickets are now on sale for RLWC2013, with 55% of tickets priced £20 or less. To make sure you will BE THERE buy now at www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call our 24 Hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.