Michael Shenton has admitted to being disappointed at not being part of the England set-up last autumn, but believes his omission can benefit his game this year and be to Castleford Tigers’ advantage.
Although the Tigers skipper was included in the Super League Dream Team he was not selected by coach Steve McNamara and he intends to use that as a motivation with a chance now to impress new head coach Wayne Bennett, who has just been announced to take over from McNamara.
But not having to play for England has given Shenton a full pre-season with Cas and he says he is feeling the benefits ahead of the new Super League campaign which starts at Hull KR on Sunday.
He told the Express: “I was disappointed not to be in the England squad, but it’s part of the game and everyone has their reasons.
“It’s motivation for me to get the spot back or get back into contention, but I’ve really enjoyed pre-season to be honest.
“It was nice to have a break and a few weeks off then come back and focus on Castleford really.
“It’s been good to be part of the full pre-season. My body feels the best its felt for a while so personally I’m looking for a good year.”
Shenton is backing the Tigers to have a good season, but believes it will be a strong Super League this year.
He said: “I see everybody as our rivals in trying to achieve what we want. We’ve got to take every game as any other.
“You never know who’s going to be your main rivals. There’s always a couple of teams that step it up and are real hungry for a big year.
“You never know until you play them, but we’ll be treating the teams the same.
“The game seems to have settled down a lot more and there’s been some quality players moving about.
“There’s signings coming over and Hull and Catalans have made some pretty big ones this year so you’ll be looking at them two to make a real challenge.
“With other teams you never know if they’ve had a really good pre-season.
“But we’re just focusing on ourselves and making sure we’re ready to go. When we had the right attitude last year we did all right.
“The start of the season for us is massive. Winning the first few games is huge. The poor start last year really put us on the back foot and put the pressure on - and there’s enough pressure as it is without doing that to yourself.”