CASTLEFORD Tigers captain Michael Shenton says one of the principal reasons behind his career-best form is the unexpected emergence of on-loan half-back Marc Sneyd.
Centre Shenton has been recalled to the England squad after a four-year absence and hopes to continue his excellent campaign by leading his home-town club to Wembley when they face Widnes Vikings in tomorrow’s Challenge Cup semi-final.
Working under a former international centre in Daryl Powell has aided his game but he also admits 23-year-old Sneyd has been influential.
“Daryl’s definitely helped me improve my game, just the way he talks about it and gives me different ideas,” said Shenton.
“I have mixed things up a little bit and it has really helped me.
“But the introduction of Marc Sneyd and the development of him as a player has been big, too, and we’ve had an influence on each other. He’s only young and came here with not much confidence, having not had a great time at Salford.
“But here you can just see him enjoying the game – he loves it.
“He’s developed into such a good player and he’s helped my game no end.”
Sneyd and Shenton have formed a lethal left-hand side partnership which will certainly test Widnes tomorrow.
“It will be such a shame to lose him,” added the 28-year-old, with Sneyd joining Hull FC in a £100,000 deal at the end of the season.
“He’s playing some terrific stuff and the way the team’s playing does help.
“We’re not scared to move the ball about and he will give me it early whereas some coaches don’t like that.
“Daryl’s got the half-backs listening to us which helps and if we see a bit of space we generally get it.
“We’ve got some smart forwards, too, and a lot of credit has to go to them.
“Nearly all of them have a passing game and those guys will actually pull the trigger and let the ball come wide.”
Castleford are favourites to beat Widnes, who have been inconsistent in Super League this season.
But Shenton warned his team-mates: “We can’t rely on how they turn up.
“We have to make sure we turn up to match and beat their best. That’s what our preparations have been based on.”