For some, it may be a defining game in their team's season.
For others, it represents an opportunity to press for State of Origin selection.
And for another group of players, it is a chance to put themselves in the shop window for clubs looking at signings — be that this year or the next.
Either way, there's a lot more to NRL Magic Round Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium than just the unique atmosphere provided by having all 16 NRL teams playing eight matches at the same venue over three consecutive days.
After nine rounds, the Telstra Premiership is nearing the halfway point and while the ladder is still congested teams are usually starting to break away and others are falling behind.
Magic Round may be in Brisbane but not even the Broncos will be in their own dressing room so home ground advantage counts for nothing, particularly with so many neutral fans in the crowd watching other matches.
The New South Wales and Queensland teams for the opening State of Origin match at Accor Stadium on June 8 will be named just two weeks after Magic Round so there is a lot at stake for the game’s representative stars too.
For those off contract at the end of the season, there are few better opportunities to impress the recruitment managers of rival clubs than when they are sitting in the grandstand watching every game live.
Magic Round is the only time that recruitment managers can watch every player at the same venue on the same weekend playing under similar conditions, so it is easier to make comparisons.
A big performance in Magic Round could help a player to secure a new deal — especially as the Dolphins are joining the NRL in 2023 and still have most of their roster spots unfilled.
A unique concept
Magic Round is a concept unique to rugby league that begun in the Super League in 2007 when all 12 teams played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
It was such a hit that 15 years later Super League continues to hold a Magic Weekend as fans have shown their enthusiasm for making an annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle to watch an entire round of matches at one venue.
So successful has the concept proven that in 2010, the FFRXIII introduced a Magique Weekend for the French Elite 1 competition at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium in Perpignan, home to the Catalans Dragons. The Magique Weekend concept was further expanded this year to include Elite 1 women’s teams.
In 2019, the NRL Magic Round weekend was introduced with the support of the Queensland Government, Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane Marketing.
What's the best thing about magic round?
The overall attendance for the 2019 Magic Round was 134,677 across four days and after being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic the concept returned with a bang last year as 130,019 fans turned out over three days, averaging 43,340 per day.
Many had travelled from interstate or other parts of Queensland and, with international borders opening once again, it is hoped that the festival-like atmosphere of eight NRL matches at one venue will attract fans from New Zealand or other parts of the globe.
Josh Addo-Carr scored a hat-trick of tries for Melbourne in last year’s Magic Round, Eels rookie Jakob Arthur crossed for his first after being handed his NRL debut by coach and father Brad Arthur and Nathan Cleary finished with a personal haul of 28 points from three tries and eight goals for Penrith.
They were some of the highlights of a drama-charged 2021 Magic Round, in which three players were sent off and another 14 were sin-binned.
If fans thought they could afford to miss a moment of the action at Suncorp Stadium they were proven wrong as there were twists and turns in all eight matches, which resulted in 22 players received a total of 24 judiciary charges.
A 12-man Raiders outfit snapped a five-match losing streak by coming from behind to edge the Bulldogs 20-18, the Sea Eagles turned on a razzle-dazzle performance to post a 50-6 defeat of the Broncos and the Panthers continued their premiership march with a 10th consecutive win against the Titans.
In total, there were 75 tries scored across eight matches in a weekend of non-stop action during Magic Round.
The 2022 Magic Round features some mouth-watering match-ups, headlined by the Saturday night clash between 2021 premiers Penrith and the Storm, who beat the Panthers in the 2020 grand final.
The Storm have a huge following in Queensland and for Dolphins fans it will be an opportunity to watch three of the new club’s star recruits – Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi – in action.
NRL legends nominate their players to watch at Magic Round
Sydney Roosters meet Parramatta on Sunday afternoon, with both clubs having been regular finalists in recent seasons, while Friday night’s main event features the Sea Eagles against the Broncos, preceded by the Bulldogs-Knights clash.
The Redcliffe-based Warriors face the Rabbitohs on Saturday, before the Titans travel up the highway from the Gold Coast to take on the Dragons and the Storm meet the Panthers.
Magic Round concludes on Sunday with the Sharks seeking to avenge their round one loss to the Raiders, the Roosters-Eels clash and Wests Tigers — who have not lost at the Magic Round weekend — up against an in-form North Queensland Cowboys side looking to make it five wins in a row.