Michael Shenton in mood to shake up the league with Castleford Tigers

Michael Shenton gets away from Catalan Dragons' Samisoni Langi.Michael Shenton gets away from Catalan Dragons' Samisoni Langi.
Michael Shenton gets away from Catalan Dragons' Samisoni Langi. | PA Wire
THE BOOKIES don’t fancy their chances, but captain Michael Shenton reckons Castleford Tigers are ready to shake up Betfred Super League.

Sunday’s season opener against promoted Toronto Wolfpack, at Leeds’ Emerald Headingley, comes two weeks after Tigers lost to the same opponents in Shenton’s testimonial game.

That highlighted the scale of the challenge for the 2017 league leaders and Grand Finalists, who dropped to fourth the following year and fifth last term.

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The competition sponsors have Tigers as a 20/1 shot to top the table and 16/1 for a Grand Final win, making them seventh-favourites for Super League success.

Castleford's Michael Shenton.Castleford's Michael Shenton.
Castleford's Michael Shenton. | © SWpix.com (t/a Photography Hub Ltd)

Shenton, though, isn’t concerned about anything other than “what we want to do, our internal expectations, what is driving us and what is going to get us where we need to go”.

He stressed: “We felt we fell short of our goal last season, but when you sit back and look at the bigger picture, you think we managed to achieve something okay there. It wasn’t a complete failure, we got into the play-offs and we competed.”

Shenton admitted: “If you look deeper into it, we weren’t good enough to compete with the likes of St Helens so we have got to raise our game and that is what our pre-season has been around.

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“We can’t keep doing the same thing or we will just get the same result. We have been mixing things up and the coaching staff have done a good job of that.

Toronto Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott.Toronto Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott.
Toronto Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott. | PA Wire

“We have brought in some quality players, but you don’t know until you start playing where you are going to be at.

“I am confident from what I have seen in the training and bits in the [testimonial] game.

“We didn’t get what we wanted out of it, but we got enough out of it to know we are going down the right track. It is a long season and it is crucial we get a good start.”

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Toronto will be confident after their pre-season win over Tigers, but Shenton pointed out: “In a trial match things aren’t always as they are in a Super League game.

“They are an organised, quality team, we have got to be aware of those details, but the focus will just be on ourselves and what we bring to the game.

“We want to set our standards high, we want to start the season well and that’s very important to us. We want to get some momentum, quality and consistency into our game. That’s what we will be focusing on. Leading into the first game there is always a buzz and excitement and I’m excited for it.”

The skipper was among Tigers’ long-term casualties last year when an ankle injury suffered in April ended his season. His comeback, in his own testimonial game, came to an early end because of a head injury, but he confirmed: “I am feeling all right.

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“It was the more the doctor making sure I was okay. It is how it goes now, if you get any kind of knock to your head and you have got to be careful. It was the right thing to do, but I am feeling pretty good now.”