Castleford skipper: Improving defence is key to taking next step

Michael Shenton in action.
Michael Shenton in action.

Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton reckons the team is going to have to improve in defence if it is to avoid the frustration he feels at missing out on the play-offs this year.

For Shenton and his team-mates it is a case of what might have been as they missed out on the Super League play-offs by just one place, but ultimately a leaky defence in the closing weeks of the season has proved costly for the Tigers.

“It is definitely frustrating. We were right in the mix and we’ve shown we can match up to the top teams,” said the Tigers skipper.

“We died on our legs against Wigan last week, but we know if we had got into the play-offs we could have raised our game and got the job done.

“But we just haven’t been good enough this year to get in it and that shows on the league table.

“It’s something for us to improve on. If we want to be a top four team our defence has got to be better.

“We can’t just do it for one game, because it’s away at Leeds Rhinos. We have got to be up for every single week.

“We have got to stop leaking soft points and leaking points in general.

“Huddersfield are a good example, because their defence has been good all year.”

Shenton gained some consolation when named in the First Utility Super League Dream Team for the second successive year, alongside team-mate Luke Gale, for who is equally pleased.

He said: “It’s really nice and pleasing for me and something to be proud of, but it’s good for the club as well.

“It’s always good for your club to have Dream Team players and I think Galey is one that stands out.

“He’s someone everyone thought would definitely be on the sheet. He has had such a good year and from the middle of the season onwards he has been one of the most improved players in Super League.

“He has been outstanding and he is still growing. It is good recognition for the club and the team.”

Shenton and Gale could yet have their season lengthened as they are big contenders for a place in the England squad for this autumn’s three-Test series against New Zealand.

Shenton added: “It would be great to play for England, but I am just happy I’m in the mix again after a few years in the wilderness.

“To see Luke having a chance of being in there as well is really exciting. To have your half-back in contention says a lot about your team and how you play and him as a person.”