Castleford skipper caps great season with England recall

Michael Shenton in action.
Michael Shenton in action.

Michael Shenton’s favourite year in rugby league is about to get even better as he travels down under with the England squad next week.

The Castleford captain admits 2014 has been his most enjoyable as a rugby league player and he has now capped his outstanding season as leader of the resurgent Tigers by being named in Steve McNamara’s squad for the Four Nations tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

Shenton will be joined by fellow Tiger Daryl Clark, former Cas team-mates Brett Ferres and Joe Westerman and ex-Featherstone Rovers back Zak Hardaker in a 24-man squad.

The England players fly out to their pre-tournament camp on the Gold Coast next Tuesday before playing Samoa on Saturday, October 25, Australia on Sunday, November 2 and New Zealand on Saturday, November 8 with a possible final on Saturday November 15.

Shenton has appeared in a previous Four Nations final in 2009 but has not played for his country since the Four Nations of 2010 and is delighted by his recall.

He said: “I did think maybe my chance had gone and there were some quality young players coming through in my position.

“But I always hoped to get another chance and when Daryl Powell took over he told me he thought I should make that my goal. He really pushed me to aim for that and I am really chuffed to be given another chance.

“Going on tour is pretty special. It gives you the opportunity to achieve something that will stay with you forever.”

Shenton believes England can make an impact in the forthcoming tournament with a squad full of players to have impressed in 2014, including his fellow Castleford star Daryl Clark.

He said: “Steve’s picked a lot of players on form. Hopefully we can all take that form and do something quite special over there.

“There’s no reason why we can’t and I’m really looking forward to the tour.

“It has been a great year at Cas and the way we’ve gone this season has helped me. Hopefully I can get back in and take any opportunities I get.

“It’s great to see Daryl Clark in. He’s played well all year, he is in there on form and his call-up is fully deserved.”

Shenton’s call-up comes at the end of a season when he has played a key part in Castleford Tigers’ revival, both on the pitch as a player and as an increasingly influential captain.

He is pleased to see how far the club has come in 2014 and is hoping they can kick on again next year.

He added: “It was disappointing the way we ended the season, but when we reflect on what kind of year it’s been it’s amazing really when you see where we’ve come from.

“It means something to play for Cas now. This town needs that, the club deserves it and we can go on to better and better things next year.

“We’ve got to take where we’ve come from but make sure we’re still hungry for next season now.

“We’ve got to get the new guys in and get them into playing how we want to get them to play. It’s a massive off-season ahead.”