Paul McShane sets sights on England World Cup spot - but Castleford Tigers comes first

This year's World Cup is on Man of Steel Paul McShane’s mind, but the Castleford Tigers hooker insists it is not his first priority.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 4:45 pm

McShane was selected as the European game’s top player last year - despite Tigers’ poor second half to the season - and has been named in England coach Shaun Wane’s performance squad.

That makes the former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity number nine one of the favourites to line up for England in their opening game against Samoa at Newcastle’s St James’s Park on Saturday, October 23, but McShane said he can’t risk looking too far ahead.

“It is something that’s definitely in my goals for this year,” McShane said of the prospect of making his England debut.

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Paul McShane. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

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Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane insists he is under no pressure - despite Man of...

“But my main focus is playing well with Cas and achieving something with Cas.

“Hopefully my performances for Cas will take care of my place in the squad.

“There’s plenty of good nines out there, some who aren’t in the squad at the minute, so the thing for me is just being consistent with my club performances and seeing where that takes me.”

Paul McShane is tackled by Thomas Leuluai during Tigers' win over Wigan last season. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Wane has pledged to select on form and McShane is under no illusions about what will happen if his performances dip this year.

“He has set his standards high,” he said.

“That’s what you’d expect - if you are playing for England you need to be at the top of your game.”

England’s hookers had a meeting online last week and McShane admitted competition for a place in the World Cup squad is intense.

“James Roby just doesn’t seem to be slowing down,” McShane said of his St Helens rival.

“It is mad what he gets through week in, week out and so consistently, it is crazy.

“There’s Daz [Daryl Clark, of Warrington Wolves] and loads of others, including people out of the squad, like Sam Powell at Wigan.

“I think he is a great player, a player who is reliable and tough.

“There’s a fair few who could get in there so there is definitely plenty of competition.”