Shenton determined to overcome hoodoo

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IT is more than 20 years since Castleford Tigers last triumphed at St Helens but, given their recent history in breaking records, captain Michael Shenton sees no reason why that run should not end tonight.

They head there in a qualifying play-off knowing victory at the side that pipped them to the League Leaders’ Shield would leave them just 80 minutes from a maiden Grand Final.

Michael Shenton.

Michael Shenton.

Castleford missed out on top spot after Saturday’s 28-6 defeat at Catalan Dragons which saw them slip to fourth and they have lost both games to Saints this year.

But, having enjoyed their best Super League campaign and reached a Challenge Cup final for the first time since 1992 – ironically the same year they last won at Saints – Shenton says his side still have plenty of belief.

“This is the best time to break it (Saints hoodoo),” said the England centre.

“There couldn’t be a better time and why not?

“I think on paper the teams are pretty even, but the formbook goes out of the window a little.

“We have just got to focus on the game and make sure each individual prepares well.

“There’s been a few times recently when a few guys – me included – haven’t put together an 80-minute performance.

“That’s what it takes in the play-offs; you have got to be ruthless and stick with it for 80 minutes. You have to keep the intensity right up there.

“It sounds easy saying it, but it is very hard to keep a full team focused for 80 minutes, to keep sticking to the game plan and have the discipline to do that.

“That’s where the teams that have played in the big games year after year after year can switch it on. They have got it in the bank, to dig out when they need it.

“That’s what we’re generating at the minute, that experience. If we can use the experience we’ve gained this year we will give ourselves a really good chance, but if we do the things we did last weekend, we won’t.”

Of course, if Castleford do fail, they get another chance to progress to the semis with a home elimination tie next week.

But Shenton, who played in the 2011 Grand Final defeat to Leeds Rhinos during a two-year spell with St Helens, insisted: “We want to win the first game and then get a weekend off.

“That would be massive for us as a team. And I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure on us. I think teams are looking at us and thinking we will drop off.

“We have to prove otherwise.”