Michael Shenton: Castleford Tigers captain announces retirement after 18-season career
Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton will hang up his boots at the end of this season - 17 years after his debut.
The former England man says he believes the time is right to move on to a new challenge, but is keen to stay involved with rugby league.
Shenton has captained Tigers since 2013, leading them to two Challenge Cup finals, a Super League title decider and top spot in the elite division, for the first time in the club’s history.
He described his time at the club - in two spells either side of a two-year stint with St Helens - as “special”, but feels he could yet have a glorious swansong.
Tomorrow’s game against Warrington Wolves will be his last at the Jungle - and the end of his career if Tigers lose.
Shenton, 35, is out of contract in November and has “not taken the decision lightly”.
He revealed: “It is one I kind of made a while ago.
“Leading into this season I kind of knew there were going to be changes at the club, big changes in the dynamic of our team.
“Me and Daryl [Powell, Tigers’ coach who will join Warrington for next season] are very close.
“He was ready for a new challenge and I am as well - 18 years playing professional rugby is a long time.
“I wouldn’t say it’s all I know, but it is what has made me into what I am now.
“I think with the way my body is feeling and mentally going through another pre-season and a new coach coming in - I just feel it is the right decision to call it a day.
“With Powelly leaving and Millo [Grant Millington] retiring as well, it is an end to our little era.”
Shenton feared he would finish his Castleford career on the injury list when he suffered two eye socket fractures and a fractured cheekbone against Huddersfield Giants in August.
But he made a rapid recovery and admitted he is pleased to go out “on my own terms”.
He said: “I’ve had close friends, people like Kirk Dixon, who have had to retire through injury, at 30.
“To get to 35 still playing at the top level has been great for me, to do that is pretty special.”
Looking back at his playing career, Shenton - who was capped 12 times by England and has made 345 appearances for Tigers - insisted he has “no regrets”.
And the Castleford-born centre believes, in the likes of Paul McShane, Nathan Massey and Adam Milner, the team will be left in good hands.
“It has been interesting, exciting, an emotional rollercoaster,” he reflected.
“That’s the nature of being a professional sportsman.
“I feel incredibly privileged to have played for my country and played in the big games I have, but to captain this club for nine years is one of the most special things for me.
“To see it grow and the team grow in that time and get to where it is now is special and I think it’s time for someone else to take that on now, to captain the team and drive the standards of the place.”
Shenton admitted tomorrow’s home farewell will be “emotional”, but victories in Tigers’ next three games would secure a return to Old Trafford, so he will be focusing on the job at hand.
“Hopefully it’ll be the beginning of another little journey for us,” he said of the final fixture of Tigers’ league campaign.
“Our play-off series starts now; it’s all knock out now. We have to win to get into the top-six and from there it’s must-win all the way.”
As for the future, Shenton confirmed he is interested in moving into coaching, having originally rejected that idea.
Shenton, who has a degree in business management in sport, said: “The challenge of stepping away from being a professional sportsman is what’s next for me.
“I can’t really say what I’ve got lined up next.
“There is an opportunity somewhere, it’s not something I can really talk about, but hopefully - fingers crossed - I get to stay in the game.”
Whatever happens, Shenton insisted Tigers will always have a special place in his heart.
“The club means a lot to me and it always will,” he said. “I will be a lifelong Cas fan.”
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