THE TEAM who cope best with the pressure will get their hands on the Betfred Super League trophy tomorrow, Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton reckons.
Shenton is one of only two members of Tigers’ 19-man squad with previous Grand Final experience and neither he nor Joel Monaghan has been on the winning side.
Shenton played for St Helens when they lost to tonight’s opponents Leeds Rhinos in 2011 so knows what to expect. He said: “I think what I learned from that was it was very emotional that night and sometimes you have to take that out of it a little bit.
“It sounds like it will be an amazing crowd and we know what the atmosphere is like when Leeds and Cas meet. It’s always incredible, never mind at a stadium like Old Trafford.
“We’re really looking forward to it and whoever handles the pressure of that is key.”
Shenton was a try scorer in the final six years ago, but suffered an injury before the end.
Ten years ago today he scored a try for Tigers in a 42-10 thrashing of Widnes Vikings at Headingley in the National League One Grand Final, which secured promotion back to Super League.
As the only player remaining at the club from that triumph, he has been through the highs and lows, but says tomorrow evening could be the greatest moment of his career.
“For me it’s an honour to be part of this team, to captain it and to be part of the first team to come to a Grand Final with Cas,” he said.
“I know how much it means to the fans and believe me every time I see someone in the street now they are telling me how special a year it has been.
“They are so proud of us. They are an incredible set of supporters and I want to see the best of them on Saturday night.”
Shenton has already become the first Castleford captain to lift the league leaders’ shield.
Of the prize on offer this evening, he said: “It is massive. We’ve got a taste of a bit of silverware now and made a bit of history so far this year and it only makes you more hungry to take the next step and take the big one.
“We’re in a position to do that and I think it’s set up for a perfect game – first versus second is what everyone should want.”