Paul McShane insists he doesn’t have a point to prove on his return to Leeds Rhinos.
The Leeds-born hooker, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday later this month, has been a member of Rhinos’ senior squad since 2009, but has yet to nail down a regular spot in the side.
McShane’s future at Leeds seemed to be in doubt last season when Rhinos signed Shaun Lunt on loan from Huddersfield Giants and he moved to Widnes Vikings on a short-term deal.
But he has returned to Rhinos at the end of his loan spell and is part of the group of players who began pre-season training this week.
And he stressed: “I don’t need to prove a point, I have just got to take a chance.
“I’ve got to knuckle down and get on with it. I am glad to be back at Leeds. I am a Leeds lad and all I wanted to do when I was growing up was play with my home town club.
“Signing a four-year deal shows I want to be part of this club and part of its future.”
McShane, who now has three seasons left on his contract, was awarded the No 9 jersey a year ago, but made only nine appearances – and was an unused substitute on another occasion – before joining Widnes.
He said he had no problem with the club’s decision to let him go.
“Mac [coach Brian McDermott] explained the situation,” he said. “It was all about getting valuable game time, which I probably wasn’t going to get at Leeds.
“It was just about gaining experience and I was pretty happy with how it went. I got a bit of confidence back, I was playing big minutes and there’s a lot of expectation at Leeds – at Widnes there’s not as much pressure.
“They wanted to do well and they came on leaps and bounds at the back end of the year and with game time my confidence grew.
“I feel more mature now. Getting the No 9 shirt and then getting sent on loan, it shows you can’t expect too much.”
McShane has three months of training and pre-season games to prove he is worth a place in Leeds’ side for their opening Super League fixture.
Lunt’s return to Huddersfield after his loan spell has offered McShane an opening, but he insisted he doesn’t expect to walk straight into the side.
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into training,” he said. “I’ll be training hard and hopefully I’ll get selected, but there is a lot of competition.
“Rob (Burrow) is an international hooker now and he can play the full game if he needs to. Hoody (Liam Hood) has always been there or thereabouts and he has taken his chances well.
“He got a lot of first team experience (on dual-registration) at Dewsbury last season, so it is going to be tough.
“It’ll be who trains hardest and who plays better.”
McShane returned to Rhinos at the end of Widnes’ Super League campaign and was at Old Trafford for the Grand Final win over Warrington Wolves a month ago as part of Leeds’ non-playing squad.
Despite suffering an ankle injury in the Vikings’ final game he is hopeful he will be available for Rhinos’ opening pre-season fixture, at home to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Boxing Day.
“I had a bit of a setback,” he said. “I started running too early, I wanted to get back fit for the start of pre-season and it went wrong for me.
“Hopefully I will be able to start running again in a week or two.”