Leeds Rhinos: McShane’s on a steep learning curve

Paul McShane in match action.
Paul McShane in match action.
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HOOKER Paul McShane believes he has made giant strides in his development this season and is targeting a big performance when he makes his Challenge Cup debut against Crusaders tomorrow at Headingley Carnegie.

“I am really enjoying myself this year. I am getting a lot more game time than I have been used to and I think it’s going good.

“Each week I feel as though I am getting stronger and more confident. A big thing for me this year is my fitness, I feel fitter and that allows me to play more minutes.”

McShane made his first start of the season in last Friday’s 48-6 win at Castleford Tigers. Earlier in the campaign he was being used only sparingly off the bench, but he made a big impact after an early introduction in the win at Bradford Bulls a fortnight ago and it was a similar scenario on Easter Monday.

Of his limited time at the start of the season, he said: “That’s part of the learning process. I am only 21, so I am still learning.

“Bedsy (Danny Buderus) is a great hooker in front of me. I am still learning off him and it’s a real bonus having him here.

“He helps me out every time I ask him. I probably get on his nerves sometimes, but he’s always willing to help.

“He has been there and done it, so he can tip me on anything I need and he’s a good person to go to for advice.

“All the more experienced players are like that and it’s good to have them giving you advice on how to deal with different situations.”

Boss Brian McDermott showed faith in McShane last week when he opted to rest Buderus for the trip to Probiz Coliseum.

“It was a change,” McShane said. “I was pretty shocked when Mac said he was resting Bedsy and there were a few nerves before the game, but when we got out there I think I got rid of it.”

McShane capped an influential try by ducking over from acting-half late in the game, sparking a spell of three Leeds touchdowns in the final five minutes.

It was his fourth try of the campaign and he showed his obvious delight in front of the visiting fans and the Sky TV cameras.

He said: “I get a bit excited when I score. It is not a regular thing, but hopefully I’ll get a few more.

“I’ve scored four this year – all in Sky games. I think I play better on TV!”

That could be a good omen for tomorrow’s Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round tie at home to Crusaders, which will be broadcast on BBC One.

McShane said: “I don’t really think about games being on TV. You have just got to get out there and do your job.

One aspect of McShane’s game that Super League has yet to see is his kicking in general play.

A former half-back, he said: “I have had a kicking game since I came to Leeds, but I don’t tend to do it.

“I do it more in the under-20s than the first team. It is just getting that confidence to take it on, when we’ve got the likes of Rob (Burrow), Kev (Sinfield) and Mags (Danny McGuire).

As for tomorrow, McShane is relishing making his debut in rugby league’s most famous knock-out competition.

“It’ll be the first time I’ve played in a Challenge Cup match,” he said. “It means a lot to us.

“If you don’t win you are out, so it is an important game for us and we need to be at our best to pull through.

“Everyone’s happy and buzzing at the moment and we can’t wait to get out on the field. The mood has always been good, we were just a bit low on confidence.

“We’ve got that back and I think it has shown in our performances.”

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