Paul McShane: Castleford Tigers hooker wants England World Cup opportunity

By Matt NewsumBBC Sport
Paul McShane talks to the legendary Ellery Hanley after his Man of Steel award triumph
Paul McShane impressed Ellery Hanley's Man of Steel panel in 2020 and hopes to impress Shaun Wane in 2021

Hooker Paul McShane has the target of an England World Cup squad place as extra motivation to help Castleford Tigers challenge for honours in 2021.

McShane, 31, was awarded the 2020 Man of Steel for his performances, helping the Tigers into the Super League play-offs in a Covid-19 affected campaign.

England will host the 2021 World Cup, which kicks off in October.

"It's something I wrote off a couple of years ago and I thought my time had gone," McShane told BBC Sport.

"I didn't think I'd be in with a shout for England especially into my 30s, I'd figured my time to get into the squad was done.

"It's something [Cas coach Daryl] Powell has been pushing for, for years. He said 'Don't ever lose it, keep pushing and get in there' and I've got to thank him for that.

"Shaun Wane has given me a target and made me hungry again to get in there."

Shaun Wane
England coach Shaun Wane said he had "always rated" Paul McShane

McShane is one of a number of players talked up by England head coach Wane to potentially lead the national team at this autumn's tournament.

The former Wigan boss is yet to take charge of a game and his training time has been disrupted severely by Covid-19, but regular Zoom calls and online meetings have helped get the message across.

His first game in charge will be against a Combined All-Stars side in June, and the chance to impress is a big carrot for all eligible players in the top flight.

"Shaun coming in has been a breath of fresh air for me, a new coach, new ideas ," McShane said.

"The first call I was really nervous, but speaking to Shaun - it's motivating.

"How he speaks, you believe what he's saying and his passion comes out when he's speaking.

"There are no hiding places, he'll tell you exactly how it is and as a player, it's what you need.

"During 2020 we had a couple of chats when it wasn't going well at Cas, but coming off from a chat with Shaun, it kept you motivated and wanting to push on."

Tigers hoping to avoid mid-season slide

Castleford's early season form had them among the title-chasing pack in 2020, but once the campaign resumed post-Covid the Tigers lost some of their bite.

Despite that, former Leeds and Wakefield hooker McShane was a stand-out, winning the Man of Steel award as an ever-present, described by panel chairman Ellery Hanley - a legend of the game - as 'Mr Dependable'.

McShane, who still chuckles at the thought of winning the award, has had a shoulder clear-out operation during the close season and feels fresh for the new campaign - which should see half-back Jake Trueman back, and some new arrivals hoping to take the club forward.

"The lads have been training the house down," McShane added.

"As a group we've been doing more than ever, we've got an extras group that get in early and gets some stuff done.

"Jordan Turner and Suaia [Matagi] have brought experience, Niall Evalds is class, but retaining Gareth O'Brien, we had him a bit of last year but he's a great bloke as well as a great player.

"It's a big year for us, we don't want to happen what happened last year where we lost our form, so it'll be a big year leading into the World Cup."

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