Paul McShane is the League Express Player of the Year.
The Castleford hooker received an impressive 47.2% of results in the annual readers’ poll, putting him considerably ahead of Jonny Lomax and Bevan French, who received 21.6% and 21.4% respectively.
It caps a remarkable individual year for McShane, who was named the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel following his performances during the year.
While that award was decided by a panel of legendary players, McShane’s latest accolade was voted for by fans across the sport.
“It’s something I didn’t expect, to be honest,” he said.
“I was talking to my wife and I didn’t think fans held me in such regard. It’s nice and it’s pretty humbling, to be fair. It’s different on game day when they’re all giving you a load of stick, but that’s just our sport and that’s why it’s so good! There’s a lot of great players in Super League, so to be selected by the supporters is really special.”
It all adds to a year McShane never saw coming.
“Even now, the trophy is on my cabinet and I laugh to myself that it hasn’t sunk in. When Ellery (Hanley) was talking to me I was just in awe out of respect. It’s definitely given me a pick-me-up to be better again in 2021 and I know going into it that I can be even better again with things away from rugby, getting my discipline and my diet right. I’m hungry to get into that World Cup squad as well.”
International honours have eluded McShane at the top level, however, to the surprise of many. However, he is determined to pull on the England jersey this year.
“It’s probably my last chance to play a World Cup, I’ll be 32 and it’s just a case of going all out and getting into the squad.
“It would just be mad. I got a chance at 17 and 18 to play for England Academy and at the time I was a young kid and didn’t fully understand it. We ended up touring and I made it more of a laugh than my job. Now I fully appreciate what it means, especially with kids. If they could see me represent my country, that would be incredible.
“Talking to Shaun (Wane) makes me more excited, the belief he has that we can do something special. When he says something it buzzes you up.”
In the meantime, McShane is determined to ensure that Castleford experience a better 2021 season than the one that petered out in 2020.
“As a team we want to do something special for the guys that have put so much into the club. Getting so close in 2017 and just missing out, we want to go one better. We’ve got depth and experience. We want to do not only what is right for us but for the club, too.”
In other Readers’ Poll results, McShane’s Castleford colleague Jacques O’Neill was voted the Young Player of the Year, while James Roby is the Mature Player of the Year for the third year in a row and he is also the Club Captain of the Year. Roby’s team St Helens are the Club of the Year. The Rookie of the Year is Warrington’s Matty Ashton, while the Overseas Player of the Year is Lachlan Coote and the Best Overseas Newcomer is Aidan Sezer. The most entertaining player is Bevan French, while the player who will be most missed is James Graham.
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