PAUL McSHANE started this pre-season apprehensive of the changes being made at Castleford – but has ended up at the forefront of them.
The hooker will celebrate his testimonial at this Sunday’s pre-season game against Huddersfield at the Jungle, ahead of his tenth season at the club.
He has made 212 appearances for the Tigers to date, after spells earlier in his career with Leeds and Wakefield, and he played three times for England.
Castleford’s squad has undergone a transformation following last year’s flirtation with relegation, with eleven players aged 30 or above released and the same number of players signed in total, the oldest of whom is 27.
Now 34, McShane survived the cull, with Liam Watts and Joe Westerman the only other players in their 30s to remain.
“He said to me at the start of pre-season that he’d lost a lot of his old mates that he’d played with for a number of years,” said Castleford coach Craig Lingard.
“He felt a bit apprehensive coming back with all these new people there and him not having the group of friends he’s always had.
“But it’s given him a lift and freshened him up. Bringing the new players in has helped some of the older players and freshened the whole place up.
“He’s been outstanding. He’s led a lot of the changes we’ve had to make. The energy he’s brought, he’s the one that lifts everybody.”
Indeed, McShane has retained the club captaincy which he has held since 2022, albeit sharing the honour with Westerman this term.
“When you think about Castleford, you think about Paul McShane and Joe Westerman. They know what it means to play for Castleford and they represent the club 100 per cent,” added Lingard.
“Having them as co-captains is really important for us. They both bring different attributes to the role but they’re equally important.”