CASTLEFORD Tigers’ Michael Shenton is ready to put his England snub to good use in 2016.
The club’s captain was surprisingly left out of Steve McNamara’s squad to face New Zealand this autumn despite being widely rated as one of Super League’s top centres and earning a place in the Dream Team.
Shenton had also been in England’s Four Nations squad last year – if only playing in one game – so his exclusion was unexpected.
Now fully immersed in pre-season training at Castleford, he admitted: “It was disappointing, of course it was. It’s always disappointing when you don’t get picked for England.
“I was in the mix and missed out but it’s Steve’s call at the end of the day and they got the job done so I can’t really complain too much.
“It’s just a little bit more motivation for me going into next year.”
England did, crucially, win the Test series against the world’s No1 ranked team.
They prospered in the first game at Hull FC, lost 9-2 at London’s Olympic Stadium –when they were kept tryless for the first time in 15 years – but rounded off with a 20-14 success at Wigan.
However, McNamara’s decision caused more consternation given he picked Wigan Warriors’ John Bateman – traditionally a back-row – at centre instead of specialist Leroy Cudjoe, the Huddersfield Giants player who, like Castleford’s Dream Team scrum-half Luke Gale, was unused throughout the series and against France.
Asked if he would have to play back-row for Tigers in 2016 to get a crack for England at centre, Shenton laughed: “Maybe. Centres don’t get much crack these days!
“No, that’s totally their call and they got the job done and did it alright in the end, they did it pretty easy. I’m pleased for those boys.
“I’m a bit disappointed for Luke Gale. I thought he could have really made a difference for that team.
“They looked a little bit blunt at times in attack and I thought he could have added some real sharpness. It was a shame to see him not get a crack but he’s right in the mix.
“He’s a current form player so it’s a shame not to see us play our current best team right there but we can’t complain as we got the series win and that’s a really big step for England as it was a must-win series for us.”
Shenton, 29, says being overlooked is “absolutely” a big motivation for him to earn a recall in time for the 2016 Four Nations that are held here next autumn.
He added: “We’ve other boys (at Cas) who will be in the mix in the coming years, too.
“If you see Mike McMeeken knocking about he’s a big back-row. He played a little bit to settle in last year but he’s a giant and a real talented player and I think he’s one for the future.
“He’s a little bit young at the minute, still a little inexperienced, but we’ve some young boys now and we should have some challenging for England.
“If we want to be a top-four team, like we do, it means we should have some players challenging for rep’ honours.
“I think signing the likes of Joel Monaghan, who’s played for Australia, is a big step for the club – someone of that kind of experience – and it’s definitely exciting times here.”