Shenton: "Some of our boys stepping up"

Posted: Wednesday 17th March 2021 - 2:55 PM


This article is taken from Michael Shenton's column in the March edition of Castleford Tigers' monthly club magazine ROAR, which you can read for free at castlefordtigers.com/roar.

As we head towards the new season our prep has gone well and it feels like a long time since we first started on our Christmas Camp in December. Those three days, all of us getting together, was a good chance for us all to touch base and have a mini-camp and I thought it was great with everyone having a good dig in a mixture of challenges. I think that set us up well for January’s start with everyone on the same page and what was expected from us and we’ve just kicked on from there.

We have gone through loads of different elements to our game and to being an athlete as well, from working in the gym or out running. The weather has thrown some adversity at us but at the same time that can build character by adjusting to what is going on, you come in and maybe you don’t know what is happening or is expected of you. You might be in the wrestle room doing a session, on the rowers doing cardio, cross-fit sessions, and all sorts of other things but overall, I think it has been really enjoyable. Our new lads have fitted in terrifically and all the boys have been great company to be around and everyone that is here is striving to improve.

Within the team you see leaders emerge all the time, it’s something we speak about – growing our leadership group because it is not about having just one or two leaders, you need a group of people who stand up both on and off the field. They need to be a voice everywhere, but also listen to what else is going on around them and to encourage people to grow and we spoke about creating an environment that is helping everyone grow, and that everyone can be accountable, no matter who you are you are accountable to everyone else. We have great coaches who were fantastic leaders when they played and are great leaders now as coaches, it is great to learn off those guys, I think we can always keep learning on and off the field and improve in all kinds of areas in our lives.

When we’ve had our best years, the sole focus has not been just about what is going on out there on the field. Everyone here at the club has their own lives away from rugby, their own families, all different things going on and with COVID it is more important than ever that we do look after one another. Everyone has a voice, everyone is getting listened to and looked after, it’s an important part of our leadership qualities and I see some of our boys stepping up and being good leaders.

It’s a massive boost knowing that fans all being well are coming back during the season, whilst we will start behind closed doors, I think we have learned lessons from last year. I think not having our fans in attendance affected us more than most, you make such an impact for us and we had to learn how to deal without that, creating our own atmosphere and playing well.

It’s always exciting going into the new season because we haven’t played rugby for that long and we want to play well, we are excited about what we can do on the field. Once we are a few games in there’s a good chance of having spectators back in and I’m sure that will make a big difference down at The Jungle. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan and can happen soon, but we are focused on that first game against Warrington because the start of the season is so important.

The core of this team has been together a long time, and you look at the spine of our team we have our young halves who are outstanding and have had a year together, such great quality with two fullbacks. Furthermore, look at our pack and the outside backs too, there is absolute quality there to fill in and rotate when needed, add into that young players who are eager to learn and develop. The youngsters have been doing just as much ball work, defensive work as the senior lads is doing, they get challenged and we see them improving each week, that is only going to benefit us as a team.

I’d like to finish with a word for Saia, I was absolutely devastated for him when he got injured, he looked absolutely brilliant in training and I can understand the frustrations of our supporters because everyone has been so excited to see him play, but no one is more frustrated than Saia himself. As a player and a person, he is such a nice guy, he worked so hard and got himself in great shape and it’s just one of those freak things. A champion fella and we all wish him the best in his recovery.

Thank you for your support as ever, stay safe and enjoy the games.

Shenny

Read Daryl Powell's column, exclusive interviews and much, much more in the March edition of ROAR!

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