CAPTAIN Michael Shenton signed a new long-term deal with Castleford Tigers and admitted: Now we need to challenge for silverware.
The England centre still had a year left to run on his deal with his hometown club but has now extended it by another three to the end of 2019.
Securing the signature of a player who won a place in the Super League Dream Team this year and was deemed deeply unlucky not to feature against New Zealand, demonstrates that Castleford are certainly a club on the up.
Shenton believes actually winning trophies – he led them to their first Challenge Cup final in 22 years in 2014 before losing against Leeds Rhinos –should be the next step under Daryl Powell, the head coach who has transformed the West Yorkshire club’s fortunes in recent seasons.
“It was pretty much the easiest decision I’ve had to make in rugby league since I’ve started,” he said, about the new contract.
“It’s the club I care about and, since Daryl took over in the last couple of years, I love my role here and I love playing again.
“They’re such a great set of lads and coming back in for pre-season training and seeing the boys working so hard, I’m excited by the ambition here.
“You can really feel it – on and off the field – and I just thought this is the place to be.
“Challenging for trophies is what we need to be doing now and I’m just really excited for the new season already which is a big call really.”
Shenton came through the Academy ranks at Castleford making his first-team debut in 2004 and he has spent his entire career at Wheldon Road aside from a brief two year stint at St Helens.
A dynamic centre, he feels his best form could still be in front of him.
“I feel great now and do think I’ve developed even more as a player over the last couple of years,” he said. “But I’m still learning. Being experienced helps me. It helps the boys on the field and my decision-making as a captain.
“I’m still developing that kind of role but am really enjoying it as well.
“It brings the best out of me. Hopefully I’ll keep getting better and 2016 can be the best year I’ve had yet.”
He will be 33 when his new contract expires so, theoretically, could finish his career at Castleford.
Shenton said: “You never know but it’s nice to have long-term security there.
“It means I can just focus on my rugby now. That’s what helped me on my last deal as well. It means I’ve got four years of security and I can just focus on that and developing as a captain and as a person.
“Daryl’s big on that – growing as a person and helping out with the team with the young boys coming through which is a big part of the club as well now. There’s some great talent coming through here.”
Powell added: “Michael has been a massively important player for us in the two and half years I have been at the club.
“That’s not just in his game and the quality of it you see on the playing field but his leadership off the field and his influence in the group is hugely positive.
“It’s great news when someone who has that higher standing within the club wants to stay on a long-term deal.”
England prop Tom Burgess is reportedly trying to start an NFL career with New York Giants after training with them this week.
It appears the South Sydney forward, who hails from Dewsbury and started his career with Bradford, wants to emulate Jarryd Hayne, the Australia rugby league star who switched to San Francisco 49ers with much initial success earlier this year.