CASTLEFORD Tigers boss Ian Millward believes the re-signing of Michael Shenton has delivered a huge vote of confidence in the club.
The England centre (pictured) will return to Cas for the 2013 season after the Tigers confirmed this week that Shenton has put pen to paper on a four-year deal.
It will be a return home for the 25-year-old former Castleford academy player who scored 93 tries in 153 appearances for the first team before joining St Helens two years ago and current head coach Millward is delighted with his first major capture of the year.
He said: It’s brilliant news for the club. I’m real excited.
“It will have a great impact not only on the field, but off the field, support-wise and for juniors coming through.
“He’s an international player, he’s played in grand finals. He brings that experience we are looking for and brings that stability and all that composure we need defensively.
“It wasn’t just us talking to him. There were quite a few clubs and there was no guarantee he was coming back to us. So for him to make that decision to come back to Cas over quite a few clubs and some big clubs is a big vote of confidence going forward.
“We made it very public we wanted to go out and sign two centres and this is first one.”
Millward believes the club can enhance Shenton’s chances of playing for England in next year’s World Cup.
England prospects figured high in the player’s priorities after he found himself having to fight for his place in the St Helens team next season as a result of them signing another centre, Jordan Turner, from Hull.
Millward said: “I spoke to (England coach) Steve McNamara about him and about playing for Cas and representing England. Since he’s been at St Helens he’s actually come out of the squad.
“Steve McNamara was very positive about him if his form’s right and some of the roles we want him to play here on the field and off the field in training would only enhance his prospects of playing for England.
“He comes with a different role to what he used to have here. First of all he’ll have a mentoring role and an experienced role and a chance to take his game to a next level.
“He’ll also come with an expectation from us to provide some of the key elements we are missing in those areas.
“He’s a fabulous player. He had a big influence in the grand final last year as you could see when he had to come off with injury.
“That’s what we’re looking for, a true specialist centre who’s played at international level and in grand finals.
“And he’s a good bloke into the bargain too. In my talks with him he’s a really decent kid who loves Cas, but at the end of the day he wanted to do what was right for his rugby league career and to enhance him.
“He wanted an environment that challenges him. This will be different for him, at Saints there’s many star players and internationals and he is one of many. Here he will take on a greater emphasis on his role with the club.”
Millward wants more signings to follow Shenton as he looks to rebuild the Tigers squad for next year.
He added: “We stated all along that we needed to buy two specialist centres to give us some stability and more experience across the line.
“Michael’s the first part of the jigsaw and I’m very pleased that he’s made that commitment.
“We’re very close with another signing and we’re very hopeful of getting the paperwork wrapped up in the next couple of weeks.
“When that comes we can move on where we need to as a club. Establish some areas that provide some experience and some help for our younger players.”