Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers - Michael Shenton eager for return to competitive action after injury lay-off
AFTER an injury brought his 2019 campaign to a premature end, Michael Shenton is eager to return to competitive action this weekend.
The Castleford Tigers captain is set to lead his side out at Emerald Headingley on Sunday afternoon as they face newly-promoted Toronto Wolfpack in their opening Super League fixture.
The 33-year-old from Pontefract last played a competitive fixture for the Tigers in April when he picked up an injury in the south of France against Catalans Dragons.
The centre made his return in his testimonial match two weeks ago but only played half an hour before coming off with a head knock.
That was just precautionary, however, and Shenton said: “Injuries played a big factor last year, it is a killer being on the sidelines that long.
“I have never had setbacks like that injury last year.
“I am super excited, I have had a quality pre-season and I am back in with the lads and I can’t wait to get back playing a proper Super League game.
“It’s going to be a big week, I can’t wait.”
The Tigers had to contend with a number of injury problems last season but were still involved in the Super League play-offs. They beat Warrington Wolves in the first round before being knocked out by beaten Grand Finalists, Salford Red Devils.
“We felt we fell short of our goal last season,” said Shenton.
“But when you sit back and look at the bigger picture, you think that we managed to achieve something okay there. It wasn’t a complete failure, we got into the play-offs and we competed.
“If you look deeper into it, we weren’t good enough to compete with the likes of St Helens.
“That is the thing, we have got to raise our game and that is what our pre-season has been around. We can’t keep doing the same thing or we will just get the same result.
“We have been mixing things up and the coaching staff have done a good job of that.
“We have brought in some quality players. We are just about there but you don’t know until you start playing where you are going to be at.”
Toronto beat Castleford when the sides met during pre-season and Shenton is wary of the quality possessed by the transatlantic club.
“In a trial match things aren’t always as they are in a Super League game,” he added.
“There is a lot that you can’t take into consideration, but there is a lot of quality in their team.
“They are an organised, quality team. We have got to be aware of those details but the focus will just be on ourselves and what we bring to the game.
“We want to set our standards high, we want to start the season well and that’s very important to us. We want to get some momentum, quality and consistency into our game. That’s what we will be focusing on.
“Leading into the first game there is always a buzz and excitement and I’m excited for it.”