Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton admits it would be a dream come true to lead his team out at Wembley, but warns that they are not there yet and face a tough test against Widnes Vikings.
Shenton is expecting his team to be stretched to the limit by a Widnes side also desperate to end their wait for a Wembley trip and reckons every Cas player will have to be on top of their game if they are to progress from Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final.
He said: “It would be great to lead the team out at Wembley and great for everyone at the club. But you can’t get carried away talking about it because we’ve got a really good team to play against and we are looking no further than the semi-final this Sunday.
“I’ve played in some big games, but for Castleford it’s certainly one of the biggest I’ve been involved in and one of the most exciting.
“It could lead to something amazing obviously, but Widnes are a massive challenge. They are playing some good rugby at the minute.
“With Kevin Brown in charge of their game they are a good side. They’ve got some exciting players like Willie Isa and some nice ball handling skills. I know that they’ve got plenty of threat and they have shown that this year.
“We know we’ve got to be right on top of our game and we’ve got to handle the game in the right way.
“We’ve not really played any game under this much pressure this year.
“The Wigan quarter-final was a little bit different. It was on their ground and the pressure was on them. But going into this game it’s evenly matched, the pressure’s across the board for both teams.
“We know we’ve got to turn up as a team and do what we have been doing all year, that’s compete. I think everyone’s ready. We’re definitely confident and why not as we’ve played some really good rugby this year?
“Widnes had a really good win at the weekend so it should be two confident teams and a really special game.”
Shenton added: “I think everyone’s ready. It’s been a while in the making.
“It seems like ages ago that we reached the semi-finals and people have been constantly going on about it.
“I think the team’s done a great job of putting it to the back of our minds and getting on with the Super League.
“It’s a massive distraction at the end of the day and all the fans are really into it and all the press as well.
“The gap does feel to be too big between the last round and this, to be honest, but we are glad it’s here now and we’re all looking forward to it.
Shenton is delighted to be playing in such a big game back at Castleford and naturally pleased with the turn round in fortunes of the club this year.
He said: “I had been in some big games over at St Helens and I wanted to bring some of that back to Castleford when I came back, get the club back to where it should be.
“I thought it would take time, but the transformation this year has been fast. But I still had plenty of ambition to play in big games and nothing could be more special than to do it for my hometown club. As captain as well, leading the team out.
“I’m excited about this week, never mind Wembley.”