Shenton announces his retirement

Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton, a modern-day legend of the club, will retire from professional Rugby League at the end of the 2021 Betfred Super League season.

The 35-year-old is a product of Castleford Tigers’ Academy after debuting in 2004 and is currently in his 18th campaign as a professional player this year.

Shenton has been an integral part of his beloved hometown club changing its ambitions and fortunes over the years, from having to endure the heartache of relegation – to now consistently challenging and competing for silverware.

In his early seasons with the Tigers, Shenton quickly established himself as a bright Super League prospect and was part of the squad that moved Castleford back into the top-flight in both 2005 and 2007. By 2008 he had established himself as a star Super League centre, earning the first of his twelve England caps.

In 2011 Shenton joined St Helens, a move, which he himself has described as one of the hardest things, he has ever had to do, before returning home to Wheldon Road for the 2013 season as Castleford captain.

The second spell of Shenton’s time as a Tiger has been a golden period, with his leadership both on and off the pitch being vital alongside Head Coach Daryl Powell.

During this era the Tigers have; visited Wembley twice for Challenge Cup Finals, reached the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, finished first in the top-flight for the first time in the club’s history, and lifted the League Leaders’ Shield in 2017. Michael Shenton has also been named in Super League’s Dream Team on three occasions during this period: in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell paid tribute to his captain, saying: “Michael Shenton is just class. Class as a bloke, as a family man, as a player, and as a leader. I think that is the word I would use for him, everything about him is first class since I have been at Castleford.

“He has played international football and has been right at the top of his game when he has been here at Castleford. He deserves all the accolades that he will get at the end of the year because he has been absolutely phenomenal for the Tigers.

“Every player has the people that like them and people who prefer other styles, but I think he has been one of the most skilful centres in years. He has that kind of skill set about him because generally our left wingers score some of the most tries in the competition and there is a reason for that. He plays on the left centre and services the winger in such an outstanding way that most of those tries have been pretty easy to score and that is a result of the work that he puts in. His skill set is right at the top of the tree as a centre.

“Shenny has become such a key leadership voice within the team and the way he plays epitomises a captain’s game. The way that he speaks off the field, the way that he behaves around everything he does as a bloke, I think is outstanding.

“For me, he has been massive, because as a coach you need key leaders to drive standards and the way the team wants to play, and he has been pivotal to all of that.”

Michael Shenton himself has penned an emotional statement about his retirement at the end of the 2021 season.

“I’ve had some incredible experiences in the game, but also some tough times too. The heartache of relegation after getting the club promoted the previous year, but then getting to be a part of a very special team in 2007, winning the Championship Grand Final to get Cas back into Super League – that was a highlight.

“I’ve had some very special moments, none more so than being in the first Castleford team in history to lift the League Leaders’ Shield. Representing England in the sport you love is an unreal feeling, but getting the chance to go and play in tournaments across the world in Australia and New Zealand was incredibly special too.

“I can tell you, and so can every other player that has represented the Tigers, Cas can be a crazy place to play. Some of the things that have happened over the years are insane, but at the same time, it’s a place where players love to play. Our ground creates the best atmosphere in the league, mainly because our supporters are so passionate. The club is at the heart of our local communities and means so much to them. It’s been incredibly special to represent the club for such a long time, and it’s with great sadness that my time playing for Cas is coming to an end.

“To all my former and current teammates, coaches, physios, strength and conditioning coaches, and more, I want to thank you all and just say it was an honour and a pleasure to play alongside you.

“To my friends and family, thank you for supporting me through everything I’ve endured over the past eighteen years, your support has made a massive difference.

“Mum, Dad and Alex, you’ve sacrificed so much to help me achieve my own goals, you’ve followed me around the country and have always been there for me. I love you guys.

“To my beautiful partner Claire, and my three gorgeous kids, Sadie, Seb and Nieve, you’re my everything. You are the ones who get the behind the scenes and look at a 35-year-old Rugby League player after a game. I’s not pretty, I can tell you. Claire, you witness first-hand the emotional rollercoaster of the sport, and it takes a special person to give the support and advice you give me on a regular basis. You’ve put up with me through broken ankles, an ACL recovery, and the other million injuries I’ve had. As good as you are to me, you’re an even better mum. The kids and I are so lucky to have you. I’m not sure I could ever repay you for the sacrifices and support you’ve given me. I love you.

In closing, I would just like to say thank you to all our supporters for making my sixteen years at Cas so very special. It’s been an honour to play for Castleford Tigers for so long and I know I’m going to miss it an incredible amount.”