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Why NRL Magic Round should be on your sporting bucket list for 2025


With the dust now settled on an epic weekend of NRL action in Brisbane and fans return home feeling full from an incredible smorgasbord of rugby league, there are at least three more years of the event being held at Suncorp Stadium to look forward to.

SENZ League commentator Sam Hewat takes a look back at what made Magic Round 2024 special and why you need to do everything you can to get there in 2025.


I remember for years hearing about the famous Caxton Street during State of Origin, where the team buses used to drive through enroute to Suncorp Stadium before it all became too hectic and a health and safety nightmare.

Despite that, I never really appreciated or understood what exactly Caxton Street was and how much buzz it creates around a game (or games) of rugby league.

Lined with various watering holes and activities, Caxton Street is the starting point for the day at Magic Round - the pubs are packed, the fans are building a party atmosphere, and guess what… no fun police, and no dickheads. Just fans having fun, enjoying themselves, sharing some pre-match laughs, and getting ready to walk just five minutes to the gates of Suncorp Stadium.


Hands down, the best sporting venue in the Southern Hemisphere. Sure, we can argue all day about grounds like the MCG or the Sydney Football Stadium, but none of them have the atmosphere and feel of Suncorp.

50,000+ people packed into a rectangular ground where you’re basically on top of the field makes for a supreme cauldron. The noise is deafening, as we found out walking up the turnstiles during the Raiders v Bulldogs match on the opening day.

Every moment of the match is amplified by the sound the venue creates, and that’s before we talk about the flawless logistics of the place. Not once did we see or encounter queues, or have any problem getting out of the stadium once the final whistle went.

In fact, it’s quite surreal seeing how quickly Suncorp empties out once the evening is finished. It is a world-class venue, perfectly designed for rugby league with a rich history to match.


If you’re a bit of a rugby league nuffie, you will revel in the memories that come flooding back as you walk around Brisbane for Magic Round weekend.

Every jersey from past and present is on display as fans proudly parade the streets wearing Raiders and Broncos jerseys from the 90s, Balmain Tigers kits from the 80s, and Bulldogs jerseys from the 70s, and even the never-forgotten North Sydney Bears.

Not only does it build the vibe and the atmosphere around rugby league, they become great conversation starters as you bump into random people on the street. Ironically, despite supporting different teams, fans are united by their admiration for an old piece of kit and it lets you know rugby league is well in truly in town.


Rugby union, listen up! Part of what makes Magic Round a mecca for rugby league fans, is the fact you can be walking down Caxton Street, or going to your seat at Suncorp, and bump into legends of the game.

Cam Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Freddy Fittler, Blake Ayshford, Gorden Tallis - these guys are walking around with the fans getting pictures, sharing laughs, maybe a bit of NSW v QLD banter, and enjoying the footy alongside everyone else.

It would be very easy for them to stick to their corporate boxes away from everyone and slip in and out of the venue, but no. The NRL makes sure they are on proud display for everyone to see.

Head to The Lord Alfred before a game and Cam Smith will be inside having beers, go to the Caxton Hotel and Matty Johns will be the life of the party, and if you’re a Warriors fan, you can find yourself walking up to Suncorp alongside Kevin Campion or Mark Tookey.


If you’re a fan of rugby league podcasts like The Levels Network, The Bye Round, Hello Sport, or Matty Johns, Magic Round is the perfect opportunity to see your favourite hosts in action.

Almost every major rugby league podcast had some sort of show (or shows) across the weekend, whether it be at the pubs, outside Suncorp, or inside the stadium. These shows are interactive, they’re loud, they’re engaging, and they include everyone - not just the guests and the stars of the game, but the fans and kids too.

I can’t tell you how many people have been raving to me about catching their favourite shows live in the flesh and getting photos afterwards - it’s just another way the NRL promote their game so well.

Kevin Campion, Running It Straight


We’ve long said that sport needs to make sure it’s more than just the 80 minutes on the paddock, and most of the above plays into this next point. No one does it quite like the NRL and Magic Round when it comes to pulling the fans into the occasion.

We’ve mentioned Caxton Street, lined with events and great venues to get the Magic Round buzz, but it includes a whole lot more - closed for the entire weekend to car traffic, the road is full with games to play for prizes, DJs, food trucks, and fan activations.

If you’re with kids and not keen on wading through the pub pandemonium, they’ll have a blast trying to win a jersey, an NRL ball, or a free Magic Round hat.

As you arrive at Suncorp, it gets even better. There are numerous areas outside to sit and enjoy the Brisbane sun, watch the action on the big screen, grab a bite or a drink, and once again win some awesome prizes.

Once you enter, the buzz of the NRL hits you squarely in the nostrils - and it’s the little things that make it so much fun. The 'Faces of Magic Round' on the big screen, panning through the crowd with hilarious filters get fans in fits of laughter.

There was the promotion by Westpac where any game ball that lands in the crowd is allowed to be kept, where normally they have to be returned to the officials. And the halftime fireworks, pyrotechnics, live performances, and shirt cannons mean there isn’t a single moment of the weekend where you’re not having the time of your life.


Needless to say, the action in the middle of the Suncorp turf plays a supplementary role to all of the above. However, Magic Round never fails to deliver on some scintillating rugby league.

On the whole, it’s a pretty easy concept - get all of the NRL clubs to play at one venue over the course of the weekend. Non-stop action, almost no time between games, and fans get their money’s worth every step of the way.

But it’s not like a Nines tournament, or Rugby Sevens, this is right in the middle of the NRL season where games genuinely mean as much as the week before, or the week after. As a result, there is no gimmicky feeling to the action on the field.

You also get a chance to see all the best players in the game, in the space of three days. Granted, this year had its fair share of injuries, but being able to see every top-level player go toe-to-toe for three days straight is something you’d never be able to do without a Magic Round. The first six games of Magic Round had winning margins of four, one, four, eight, six, and two - meaning all but the final two matches came down to the wire, giving the fans a reason to stay in their seat for the entire 80 minutes.


I’m yet to hear of any major problems or issues within the Suncorp crowd over Magic Round. With a party atmosphere flying around the weekend, it would make sense for things to get a little out of control at times. But it never came to fruition from what I saw, and instead you had a whole bunch of fans supporting their teams and getting right into the action while enjoying themselves.

Close to 150,000 people attended the event across the three days, averaging 50,000 - meaning the NRL was just 2,500 people shy each day of a complete sellout.

The atmosphere was also aided by stadium security at Suncorp, which is unlike anything I’ve experienced in New Zealand.

Not only is entry and exit into the stadium seamless, but the mandate to let fans enjoy themselves meant no one was being kicked out for having an oversized flag or carrying one too many drinks. No one was blocked from walking to different areas of the stadium, and guess what? Not a single streaker or pitch invader across the entire weekend.


The NRL has got the number one thing right with Magic Round – location. It’s the problem that plagues so many sports whenever they try to put something different on during their seasons.

Brisbane really is a sporting oasis in Australia - they are rabidly passionate about their sport, more so than almost anywhere else in the world I’ve been to.

It’s the Queensland parochialism that shines through, but it’s also the way they get behind their codes. It’s not just about showing up, it’s about being loud and fanatical and immersing yourself in the occasion.

Brisbane is an amazing city, highlighted with areas like the South Bank, West End, Fortitude Valley, and elevated with a body of water that runs right through the heart of the CBD.

The weather put on non-stop sun the entire weekend, with temperatures at a perfect 21 degrees. And the best part? If you want to extend the weekend out and make the most of the time off, the Sunshine and Gold Coasts are just short drives away.


Last but not least, when it comes down to brass tacks, Magic Round sets the stage for the biggest moments of all.

Whether it was a last-minute field goal for Brisbane to get up over Manly, the Sharks and Roosters going tit for tat as the two in-form teams of the competition, or of course the Warriors tipping up the Panthers for an historic win, Magic Round gives the fans just that – a little bit of magic.

Sure, that happens week in week out in the NRL, but as a fan sitting at Suncorp, getting to witness those moments game after game in between all of the partying and festivities, those are the memories you’ll keep with you forever as you fly back home to New Zealand bleary-eyed and in need of a good sleep. It makes the weekend worth it and has you craving it all again in twelve months time.

If you’re an NRL fan, and you haven’t got Magic Round on your bucket list, get out the pen and paper immediately. Grab a group of mates, start saving up the party funds, book in your flights and accommodation as soon as the schedule is announced, and get yourself over to Brisbane in 2025. You won’t regret it.

Rugby League New Zealand Warriors

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