Castleford Tigers and England centre Michael Shenton believes that he is a more “well-rounded” player than he was four years ago, and believes that will stand him in good stead for England’s assault on the Four Nations this month.
Shenton last played for England in 2010, when his tour came to a premature end after suffering an elbow injury in the opening game against New Zealand Maoris. Since then, he has returned to hometown club Castleford Tigers, captaining them to a Challenge Cup final appearance in 2014, as well as gaining plenty of plaudits himself for some dazzling performances.
And he admitted that playing in a team like Castleford’s this year has led to him enjoying his rugby more than ever before – and after being named in England’s squad for the opener against Samoa on Saturday, he says it’s fantastic to have made the long road back to England recognition.
“It was awesome to get back in the training squad in mid-season and then I got told about six weeks ago when they were going to name the squad,” Shenton said.
“Leading into that week, our season had already been finished and I was pretty nervous. I was thinking ‘I’d love to go on tour’ and I would have been really disappointed not to get in. The elation and relief was pretty special. It’s great to get another crack at it.
“I think I’m a better player all-round to be honest. I’ve never enjoyed my rugby as much as I have this season, I’ve really had a great time and played in a team that suits the way I like to play.
“I have a lot more responsibility and I think that helped. Also, I’ve got a better understanding of the game as I’ve got older.
“I think I’m a more well-rounded player to tour than I was last time.”