19th May 2018, 10:12 | Hullkr

Atkin: Hull derby like no game I’ve played in before

Atkin: Hull derby like no game I’ve played in before

Hull Kingston Rovers half-back Chris Atkin says the return of the Hull derby will provide a fitting climax to the annual Dacia Magic Weekend.

The former Swinton Lions player got his first taste of the rivalry in a 30-22 defeat at KCOM Craven Park on Good Friday, which he believes will stand him in good stead at St James’ Park.

“Obviously the Hull derby is one of the biggest games in rugby league and it’s good to have it back in Super League this year, especially bringing the curtain down on Magic,” Atkin said.

“The city feels that little bit different. Nothing really prepares you for it, it’s like no game I’ve played in before.

“It was good to have that first one out of the way, at Magic Weekend it’s going to go up another level again.”

Rovers have a number of absentees, including Atkin’s half-back partner Danny McGuire, who has a blood clot which will sideline him for another two months.

The Black and Whites are also well under strength on Sunday, with only two of their first-choice starting backs available after losing Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Albert Kelly and Marc Sneyd to injury and Bureta Faraimo to suspension.

That means a debut for new signing Liam Harris and a comeback for centre Kirk Yeaman, 34, who hung up his boots at the end of the 2016 season and took up a coaching role with the club.

Yeaman, who was re-registered this week, will be hoping to emulate coach Lee Radford, who came out of retirement six years ago because of an injury crisis and scored a try to help his side to a 36-6 victory over Rovers.

The Magic Weekend is now in its 12th year.

Salford Red Devils coach Ian Watson, whose side take on Catalans Dragons in the opening game on Sunday, said: “It’s a great spectacle for the supporters. Nevertheless, there is the seriousness of two league points being at stake, which has been our focus for the week.”

Huddersfield Giants' Seb Ikahihifo, whose side play Wakefield Trinity in the middle game, is looking forward to the Magic Weekend for personal reasons.

“We’re on TV which means my family back home in New Zealand can watch,” said the Tonga international, who made his Super League debut in Huddersfield’s 48-20 win over St Helens at Newcastle two years ago.

Sunday’s game will give Wakefield a chance to avenge their Challenge Cup defeat by the Giants last week.

“I think playing the team you have just lost to does help because you can fix up where you went wrong,” said Trinity winger Tom Johnstone.

Huddersfield’s ever-present prop Paul Clough will lead his team out at St James’ Park to mark the 300th appearance of his career.

“I’m really pleased for Cloughy,” said Giants interim coach Chris Thorman. “He’s one of those who keep their head down, goes about their business and doesn’t get a lot of acknowledgement, but we really appreciate him.

“His staff and peers really appreciate what he does on a day-to-day basis, he’s a fantastic professional. To play 300 games is a really great achievement, and he’ll lead the team out on Sunday.”