Castleford Tigers’ Man of Steel Paul McShane ready for heat of Wembley battle

MAN of Steel Paul McShane will be taking advice from former team-mate Luke Gale to heart when Castleford Tigers walk out at Wembley for today’s Betfred Challenge Cup final showdown with St Helens.

Pitching in: Castleford hooker Paul McShane gets feel for the Wembley pitch at yesterday's captain's run ahead of the Challenge Cup final. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Gale played alongside McShane at Tigers and captained Leeds Rhinos to Wembley glory exactly nine months ago, when his drop goal secured a dramatic 17-16 victory over Salford Red Devils.

The duo are good friends and McShane said Gale has spoken to him “briefly” about what to expect this afternoon.

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“He says don’t let it get to you, just enjoy it,” said the Tigers hooker.

“Unfortunately, he couldn’t have fans there, but he said it was still special, still a special game to be playing in.”

Tigers visited Wembley yesterday afternoon for their final training session.

Speaking afterwards, McShane admitted he is counting down the minutes to today’s 3pm kick-off.

“I can’t wait,” the former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity man said.

“I have watched a fair few Challenge Cup finals as a squad member and it is nice to get out here and get a run on the turf. Playing here tomorrow will definitely be the biggest game of my career so far.”

The temperature during yesterday’s training session reached 26 degrees and it is expected to be even hotter when the final kicks off. It could become a case of survival of the fittest, but McShane insisted: “It’s the same for both teams.

“It is going to be tough but it’s one of those games where you just have to block it out and get on with your job. It was nice to get into the stadium, but it is going to be completely different with fans in.

“We had a good team run, sharp and plenty of clarity. Everyone is buzzing to be here and looking forward to cracking on [today].”

Tigers have deliberately taken a more relaxed approach than before the 2014 Challenge Cup decider and 2017 Grand Final, both of which they lost to Leeds Rhinos. McShane reflected: “It has been a special week, we have made it that.

“We’ve done things we wouldn’t normally do leading into a game and I think the lads have really bought into it and enjoyed that part of it.”