After playing the best rugby of his career last year, Castleford Tigers hooker Paul McShane is keen to maintain his importance to the team in 2018.
McShane came close to World Cup selection with England after a consistent campaign in playing a big part in the Tigers’ runaway League Leaders’ Shield win.
Modestly he plays down his contribution, but is determined to have another big season.
He said: “If I was close to England selection that’s probably down to the team and the structure.
“I’m in a structure that really suits my style of game. I am looking to build on that and be even better this year.
“I can’t wait for the start. Pre-season seems like it has gone on forever and I am really chomping at the bit to get out there and get playing again.”
McShane reckons it will be tough for the Tigers to dominate the league as they did in 2017, but preparations have gone well ahead of tomorrow’s start to the season.
He said: “We want to be successful. We want to be known as one of the best teams Cas have ever had and to do that we need to keep building on last year and really cement ourselves as a top-four side.
“It’s all right doing it one year, but let’s do it for three or four and be up there competing at the end of every season.
“It is going to be a massive year. “There’s that many teams that are probably going to improve on last year – look at Warrington and Wigan, they are going to come out fighting.
“Saints and Leeds are always up there so it’s a tough one to call.
“For us, we just need to be focused on getting off to the best start we can and then building on that week-in and week-out.
“We all believe in the lads who’ve come in, they’ve really bought into it and we just need to be a bit smarter and maybe change a few things during games which will make us even better.
“We are not changing our style of play, we enjoy how we play and it works, but sometimes we might have to tweak little things on the run.”
Castleford face a big test straight away with their first match being away at St Helens where they have not won since 1992.
McShane added: “They finished strongly last year and they’re going to want to build on that after a full pre-season with the new coach.
“He had a positive impact on them last year when he came in so we need to be fully focused and ready for that game.
“People talk about us not winning there, but we need to go and get the job done. We just want to go there and get off to the best start we can. Hopefully we can go there and get things right.”