Rugby: Hastings ready to break code for Magic Weekend

SCOTT HASTINGS will follow a path trodden by several Scottish rugby union stars over the years when he switches codes to make his rugby league debut at Murrayfield tomorrow.

However, it's no mid-life crisis for Hastings, who won 65 caps – a record at the time – as a tough tackling centre and was twice a British Lion in an illustrious union career. Instead, he will don the navy Scotland jersey for a clash with England in the International Masters Challenge, which is one of the peripheral attractions around two days of Engage Super League action.

Hastings, 45, said, "When I was asked if I would represent my country again I jumped at the chance, I am looking forward to the game which will be my first under rugby league rules."

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The Masters Challenge is one of the sideshows to the serious business of securing Super League points in what is dubbed the 'Magic Weekend'.

The format of the weekend involves seven fixtures which kick off at two-hour intervals. The action starts tomorrow when Bradford Bulls face Celtic Crusaders at 1pm in the first contest, before Hull FC meet Harlequins RL, who learned this week that their skipper Rob Purdham had been cleared to play after a disciplinary panel imposed a 300 fine rather than ban him for a dangerous 'chicken wing' tackle in the surprise win over Wigan last Friday.

Salford City Reds will then go head to head with Warrington Wolves before the day rounds off with the Yorkshire derby at 7pm when Leeds Rhinos, winners of the title for the last three years but languishing this season in the lower half of the table, clash with Wakefield Wildcats.

Sunday brings three more attractive encounters starting at 2pm with Castleford Tigers against the Catalans Dragons, who currently occupy the basement slot in the table.

Pacesetters Wigan Warriors will take centre stage at 4pm when they face fourth-placed Huddersfield Giants, and the weekend reaches a conclusion with St Helens seeking a win over Hull Kingston Rovers that could move them to the top of the table if results in the previous six matches go their way.

One man with a keen eye on the proceedings will be Scotland internationalist Iain Morrison, who believes the decision to bring the Magic Weekend concept to Scotland for a second year can help develop the 13-man code north of the Border.

"I know Scotland is very football and rugby union orientated", said the former Huddersfield man, who is now with Featherstone Rovers and will therefore not be in action at Murrayfield. However, he believes the decision to play a round of fixtures in the Capital can help develop the game, which is still at a fledgling stage with a Scottish amateur league.

Pointing to the impact the weekend had when it was held in Cardiff and spawned the Celtic Crusaders team, he added: "I see it being pretty similar in Scotland because there are only a few amateur teams there at the moment but there's the potential to grow. It was the same before Crusaders, and they've really turned the corner and are doing well now.

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"The same can happen in Scotland. If we tap into it and the structure is properly set up, then the game will be flying up there."

Magic match-ups


1pm Bradford Bulls v Crusaders RL

3pm Hull FC v Harlequins RL

5pm Salford Reds v Warrington

7pm Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield


2pm: Castleford v Catalans Dragons

4pm Wigan v Huddersfield

6pm St Helens v Hull KR