THERE’S A long way to go, but hooker Paul McShane reckons Castleford Tigers have shown their top-four credentials.
Tigers kicked off their Betfred Super League campaign with an impressive 44-16 demolition of promoted Leigh Centurions at the Jungle.
And with Tigers adding defensive steel to the attacking flair which took them to fifth place last year, McShane insisted: “We believe we can be a top-four side.”
Said the former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity man: “As long as we as a group believe that and we keep pushing ourselves at training to get to that position, then it is all on us.”
Tigers ran in seven tries against Leigh and were 44-4 ahead before conceding two late scores.
“We knew we had to be on our game because they would come here firing,” McShane reflected.
“The first 20-25 minutes was really tough, but luckily we came out on top at the end of that. We have always been able to attack, it’s the defensive side of things we’ve made massive improvements on.
“There were some little blips in there, but on the whole I thought our defensive performance was great.
“We have always known we can play, but we have proved we can defend.”
McShane was not hugely concerned by Leigh’s late rally as the visitors salvaged some pride in their first Super League game for 12 years.
“They have got a lot of play in their armour,” McShane said. “They are going to score a lot of points this year. “It would have been nice to have kept them out, but they are a good side.”
Tigers are without a match this weekend due to the World Club Series and McShane admitted that is not ideal.
“We were ready to play two weeks ago,” McShane said. “It’s how we react after this week off that’s important.
“If we react well it won’t be a problem, but we have to keep ticking over and make sure everyone keeps on their toes.
“It is always tough at the start of the year, because you are a different team, but all we are worried about is what we can do. Hopefully we can put our best foot forward.”
McShane has been described by captain Michael Shenton as Castleford’s “top dog” in pre-season. This is his third season at the club and the 27-year-old reckons he is ready to take more of a leadership role.
“I’ve been around a bit and I feel like I’ve found my home here,” he said.
“I have got a lot of confidence off my coaches and the players around me and that’s pushing me to keep pushing myself and improving myself.”
McShane could miss Tigers’ trip to Warrington Wolves on Friday, February 24, after being charged with a grade B dangerous throw on Leigh’s Gareth Hock. He is eligible to submit an early guilty plea, which would result in a one game ban. If he denies the offence and is found guilty he could be suspended for one-two matches.