MICHAEL Shenton hopes to put the lessons he learned at St Helens into use – by ruining their Wembley dreams.
The Castleford skipper admits his two season spell on the other side of the Pennines was an eye opener. It almost taught him how to be a big player in big games.
Now on Saturday, that experience can help him guide his hometown club to Challenge Cup glory after bringing Daryl Powell in as coach eight years ago helped take the Tigers to the next level.
Centre Shenton, who played for Saints in 2011 and 2012, said: “The main lessons were about their culture and leaders within that.
"The likes of Paul Wellens, Jon Wilkin and James Graham. How good they were and what it meant to them – it was their club.
“It didn’t matter who the coach was, they were the standard bearers on what was and wasn’t acceptable. Winning was everything.
“When I left, Cas wasn’t that. To see that and see how they drove it with the chat they had in video sessions and how they led on the field, they were things I wanted to bring back.
“It’s difficult to bring that into another club but when Daryl came here, he was like that anyway. Even now, he’s the standard bearer, the person who sets the bar so high and demands so much.
“That fitted into my mentality. It’s something I could help drive by taking more leadership roles on.”
Shenton is one of the players to have taken their children out of school to prevent any Covid-19 dramas wrecking Castleford’s preparation as they try for a first cup triumph since 1986.
Seven-year-old Seb is learning at home for the week while his mum continues working as a teacher, with his dad admitting: “It’s not something I’d condone!”
And should things go OK, Cas are much better prepared than they were for their last final in 2014 – not going to the Costa branch next to Wembley on the morning of the game will be a start!
Shenton, 34 and in his final season as a player, added about that 23-10 loss to Leeds: “It was about the experience of the players, the coaches and the club at that time. Those running it were new that year too.
“It was nothing we’d ever experienced as a club. The likes of Leeds, St Helens and Wigan had spent a lot of time in finals and building up, thing like going down a few days’ early, what kit did you need and photo shoots.
“I suppose we just went with the ride and we had a good crack at it but we’re better prepared this time, we’ve a better idea of what’s coming.
“But we know we’ve got to be outstanding. Sometimes you can get caught up in what could happen but that doesn’t get the job done.”
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