CASTLEFORD TIGERS captain Michael Shenton says he is “relieved and excited” to be back in the England squad.
Shenton has been included in a 24-strong group for the end of season Four Nations tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which begins later this month. It is four years since the centre last represented his country and Shenton admitted he endured a “pretty anxious wait” before his inclusion was confirmed by coach Steve McNamara.
“I remember thinking earlier in the season that it was miles away and I wasn’t thinking about it too much, but then, all of a sudden, here we are,” he said. “On Friday night I did start wondering if I’d got in and especially so come Saturday but, with Steve being in Australia and the time difference, I knew it could happen at any time. When I did get the call I was pretty relieved – and very excited too.”
Shenton feared he may never get another opportunity with England. “There is always that chance,” he said. “Some players do force their way back in, but four years is quite a long time.
“With the World Cup last autumn as well, Steve seemed really happy with the players he had and obviously they went really close to getting into the final. I thought they’d made real strides forward during that tournament and I know now, being back in the set-up, certain things have definitely improved.
“I did think maybe my chance had gone and there were some quality young players coming through in my position all playing well. I always hoped to get another chance and when Daryl Powell took over (as Tigers coach) he did tell me he thought I should make that my goal.
“He wanted to see me playing for England and really pushed me to aim for that. I am really chuffed and it does show that people do always have that chance.”
Australia and New Zealand will be favourites to meet in the Four Nations final, but Shenton reckons England can create a shock. “It’s clear to see that Steve’s picked a lot of players on form,” he said. “Hopefully we can all take that form shown in Super League and do something quite special over there.
“There’s no reason why we can’t and I’m really looking forward to the tour. It has been a great year at Cas and the way we’ve gone this season has helped me here. Hopefully I can get back in and take any opportunities I get.”