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Dave Craven: Why I would love to see Paul McShane in an England shirt

Castleford's Paul McShane: Unlucky to miss out.
Castleford's Paul McShane: Unlucky to miss out.
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IT is impossible for England’s Wayne Bennett to announce a squad and not leave someone disgruntled.

The same could be said for the coach of any national side; selections are always going to cause debate, argument and, in some cases, utter disbelief.

Clearly this was the case again this week when Bennett named his 24-man squad to face France and New Zealand, infuriating many by not including Castleford Tigers hooker Paul McShane.

I will start by admitting I am a massive fan of McShane. I’ve picked him for the Dream Team in each of the last two seasons.

For me he is one of the most talented footballers around and I would love to see him in an England jersey. I feel he would not only do it justice, but flourish.

I always remember thinking how gifted he looked when he started out at Leeds Rhinos only for him to come up maddeningly with one glaring error or daft decision per match.

I always remember thinking how gifted he looked when he started out at Leeds Rhinos only for him to maddeningly come up with one glaring error or daft decision per match.

Dave Craven

Seeing that, from a player playing in the most important position on the pitch, it seemed implausible ever to be able to build a side around him. Now, however, having moved on from his home-town club and developed so markedly under Daryl Powell, the majority of clubs would love to just have that chance.

But back to England, and as McShane approaches his 29th birthday next month, his continued overlooking by the international chief.

On the one hand you can sort of understand it. Bennett has had Josh Hodgson as his main hooker since taking on the job and few could argue that the Canberra No 9 has ever let him down.

Even though he missed the World Cup final last December after rupturing his ACL, the former Hull KR star was always likely to be back in if he could prove his fitness in time. He did.

Hodgson is a similar type of player to McShane, also the same age (Hodgson is barely a fortnight older) and could quite easily play 80 minutes at Test level if needed.

Now, Bennett has previously also selected James Roby and there can be few arguments there; the St Helens star is shortlisted for Man of Steel again on Monday night and was named in the Dream Team again last week.

However, he is pencilled in for surgery during the off-season, but, rather than turn to McShane, Bennett opted for Daryl Clark.

The Warrington No 9 is yet another class act, illustrated again on Thursday, and brings pace and dynamism off the bench as an option to Hodgson.

McShane, whose craft comes in other forms, would not bring that being an 80-minute hooker.

Critics could argue Bennett should pick purely on form where McShane would be ahead of Hodgson and Clark, at least.

But, Castleford fans should be reminded if that was the case McShane’s Tigers team-mate Luke Gale would not be in.

The scrum-half has only recently returned from a serious knee injury while St Helens youngster Danny Richardson has been the best No 7 in Super League, but Bennett has always shown loyalty to those who have served him well before.

It is part of the reason England players love him so much; if they perform at Test level they know, even if they have injuries or slight dips in form, he does not forget.

Yet there is always the chance Bennett, quite simply, does not rate McShane. Crazy? Maybe.

But he has shown that before with his more baffling treatment of Tigers centre Michael Shenton.

Then, for the player, as harsh as it is, it is just pure hard lines.