Titans and Sharks to kick off Magic Round
Out-of-sorts Gold Coast will take on undermanned Cronulla when the NRL's inaugural Magic Round kicks off in Brisbane on Thursday.
The 14th-placed Titans are desperate for a win with their top eight hopes in jeopardy following a 2-6 start to the season while the Sharks arrive on a high after beating Melbourne last weekend despite the absence of several regulars.
Thursday's match is the first of eight to be played across the weekend at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium as the NRL replicates the English Super League's successful Magic Weekend concept.
Despite his team losing the hosting of a match at home, Titans coach Garth Brennan is a believer in the Magic Round concept.
"Really looking forward to it; all 16 teams in the one place and a little bit of a carnival atmosphere," Brennan said.
"A bit like the Auckland Nines used to be."
ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie responded via social media to one fan who believed the round should have been played in Sydney, given the proximity of most of the league's clubs to that city.
Beattie said it was hoped the round would help grow rugby league and was bullish about ticket sales for the weekend.
"Tickets are still selling but we are expecting around 130,000 fans to be at Magic Round across the four days," Beattie tweeted.
The action continues with two matches on Friday, three games on Saturday and two matches on Sunday afternoon.
© AAP 2019