'We need to be winning' - Paul McShane insists Castleford Tigers can't afford to slip up in Super League derby with Leeds Rhinos
Man of Steel Paul McShane admits Friday's visit of Leeds Rhinos is a “vital” game for Castleford Tigers.
The home side have a Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final looming against Warrington Wolves eight days later and McShane stressed they want to build good form for that.
But Tigers are on the back of successive Super League losses, which makes picking up a win in that competition just as important.
“We need to get some sort of rhythm going into the week after, but there’s a fair few teams on the same amount of points in the league at the minute and if we want to keep in the top-six we need to get a result,” McShane - who played for Leeds from 2009-2013 - said.
“If we want to be up there [in the table] at the end of the year we need to be winning.
“We’ve lost the last two and this is a vital game for us.”
After under-performing in their 26-22 home defeat by Hull KR, McShane felt Tigers came up with a much-improved effort in a 38-14 loss at Warrington Wolves last Saturday.
He pointed out: “We had to change a fair bit, we lost three players in 24 hours before kick-off, which doesn’t help.
“I think the lads who came in did a great job.
“It was close at half-time, but in the last 25 minutes Warrington kind of pulled away, which was a bit gutting after the effort the lads put in.
“But there were some definite positive signs, which we need to be building on this week.”
It will be the teams’ first meeting in front of a crowd since July 5, 2019 and McShane insisted: “The fans being there is a big thing.”
He said: “I don’t think we gave them the game they deserved [against Hull KR].
“We were pretty disappointed, so hopefully we can get out there and put on a performance show for them.
“I know it has been a tough time, not being able to support us and the first chance we got we didn’t really deliver, so hopefully we can this time around.”
Leeds have lost six of their eight competitive games this year, but McShane has played on both sides in Tigers-Rhinos derbies and knows form rarely matters.
“The big thing is, they’ve had a lot of players missing,” he noted.
“Early on, with players missing, they were still battling it out.
“They’ve slipped off the last couple of weeks, but they are always a threat.
“Their game is going to come and hopefully they don’t click too well against us.”
On a personal note, McShane has managed to maintain his standards after winning the game’s top individual award last year - but reckons he can be better.
He said: “I feel comfortable.
“I still feel as though I can improve a bit more and do a bit more to help the team, but I am happy where I’m at.
“It’s early days and we’ve still got a fair bit of the season to go so hopefully I can keep building.”
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