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Castleford Tigers: Grand Final win the only thing on hooker McShane’s mind

Paul McShane
Paul McShane

AN ENGLAND call-up or Man of Steel nomination are the last things on Paul McShane’s mind as Castleford Tigers approach the business end of the season.

The 28-year-old former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity hooker has been in sensational form for Tigers, leading to speculation he could break into coach Wayne Bennett’s Test squad or be a contender for the sport’s most prestigious individual honour.

But with Tigers already confirmed in the Betfred Super League semi-finals – and therefore one win away from a return to Old Trafford – making up for last year’s Grand Final disappointment is McShane’s only objective.

“I am just focused on playing well for Cas,” he insisted.

“If stuff comes off the back of that so be it, but my main focus is on playing well with Cas and getting us back to the Grand Final. On the field after the game [last year’s title loss to Leeds] we said we have to get back here and win it.

“We didn’t get off to the best of starts this year, but we knew within the group if we get things right and pull together we can compete with anyone.”

McShane has consistently been a stand-out player for Tigers this season, but admitted: “I thought I was better last year.

“I think I’ve got a bit of confidence, I know what sort of player I want to be now, I feel comfortable around the place and I am in a good system.”

McShane began his career with Leeds and had spells on loan at Hull and Widnes before being offloaded to Wakefield.

“You sometimes have to take a step back to go forwards and learn your trade a bit more,” he reflected.

“I’ve been fortunate to come to Cas in a good coaching system.

“There’s some great players here and players always seem to improve when they get here.”

Tigers tuned up with an eye-catching 44-12 demolition of Huddersfield Giants last week.

“The last time we played Huddersfield and they turned us over we had a sit down and got a few things off our chest,” McShane revealed.

“Since then we’ve been building and everything feels good at the minute.”

After keeping a clean sheet in three successive first halfs, Tigers were 12-4 down after 20 minutes against Giants but shut out the opposition for the rest of the game.

McShane said: “We let a few soft tries in at the beginning of the game and we realised we had to tighten up.

“We are reacting well to situations at the minute and that’s good to see.”

With regular kicker Luke Gale unavailable due to a side strain, McShane took over the kicking duties and landed six conversions from seven attempts.

Of his unusual kicking style he said: “I kicked as a kid and every time I know I’m maybe in line to take a couple of kicks I make sure I get some practice in the day before.

“I am going to do what Galey has done and start my own kicking masterclass!”