Castleford Tigers: Ten-year veteran Paul McShane still eager to improve

Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane.
Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane.

HE IS established as one of the best hookers in Betfred Super League, but Castleford Tigers’ Paul McShane says he wants – and needs – to improve.

McShane had a big year for Tigers in 2018 when he was the competition’s second-highest tackler with 880 – only two behind Warrington Wolves’ Daryl Clark.

Jordan Rankin.

Jordan Rankin.

He and Jake Trueman topped Tigers’ list of try assists with 16 each and the former Leeds Rhinos man was considered unlucky to miss out on international selection at the end of the season.

Even so, McShane feels he has played better in the past and insisted: “I think there’s little things I’ve lost from my game that I need to add back in.”

McShane confirmed he has been talking to coach Daryl Powell about where he can step up.

“Me and Powelly speak a lot about keeping improving,” he said. “My running game, I think this year I am going to try and get more of that in my game.

I think there’s little things I’ve lost from my game that I need to add back in.

Paul McShane

“I found my kicking game towards the end of last season so if I can get a good mix of everything then I can keep improving.”

McShane made his debut for Rhinos a decade ago and – including spells at Widnes Vikings, Hull and Wakefield Trinity – has 215 top-flight appearances under his belt.

“I have been in the leadership group at Cas for the last two seasons,” he said.

“We have a good group of leaders here.

Castleford's Luke Gale.

Castleford's Luke Gale.

“We probably don’t have too much to do because the lads all chip in themselves. That’s the good thing about the club, everyone helps each other out and chips in. I am looking forward to this year; it’s my 10th year and I still get the same excitement as I did in 2009.”

There will be more emphasis on McShane after 2017 Man of Steel Luke Gale suffered Achilles damage in training which is expected to keep him out of action for the entire season.

McShane could slot in at scrum-half as he did at times last term when Gale was missing because of a fractured kneecap, but Tigers have signed Jordan Rankin from Huddersfield Giants, who could play in the halves alongside Jake Trueman and McShane also believes Cory Aston is ready to step up to Super-League level.

“I will do whatever Powelly asks of me,” McShane stressed. “We have got a few young halves in there and Cory is in there.

“He went really well against Fev and he might get a taste against Leeds, but I’ll do whatever’s best for the team. I can easily slot in there, but Cory deserves a chance after the pre-season he has had.”

McShane is set to feature when Tigers, who beat Featherstone Rovers at Christmas, travel to Leeds Rhinos on Sunday for Kallum Watkins’ testimonial match.

He described Gale’s injury as a “massive blow”, but said Tigers won’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.

“It is not ideal losing probably our most influential player, but we copped a bit last year with injuries so we know what we need to do,” he stated.

“I think the way we’ve attacked pre-season this year is going to stand us in good stead.

“It will probably give us a bit of motivation as well.

“Last year Galey came back early to try to help us reach a Grand Final and win a Grand Final and it made his knee a bit worse.

“It should motivate us to go one better for him. Pre-season has gone well, it has looked a bit different this year to previous years, but the lads have bought into it.

“That’s everyone, the experienced lads and the young lads and I think that showed in the pre-season game against Fev. They brought a good attitude to it.”