IT IS almost impossible to not giggle out loud when watching video footage of a mischievous Paul McShane continuously creeping up to scare the life out of his Castleford Tigers team-mate Luke Gale.
Even after the umpteenth viewing of the hilarious compilation it is still uproariously funny.
The hooker hides behind various doors and walls at the club’s Wheldon Road ground before jumping out on the unsuspecting England scrum-half who, invariably, does a strange little dance to himself as he gets spooked again and again.
The montage – ‘Missed having my mate around this last week…’ McShane said on Twitter after uploading it when Gale was recovering from appendix surgery – is all the funnier now given Gale was awarded Man of Steel on Monday.
He looks genuinely petrified, his reaction every time to hurl some verbal abuse at his prankster pal who always looks so chuffed at the simplicity of it all.
“It was honestly near enough every day I was doing it,” McShane told The Yorkshire Post, ahead of tonight’s much-anticipated Grand Final when Castleford face Leeds Rhinos for the honour of being Super League champions.
“But he’s in his own little world a lot of the time.
“He’s always listening to his music, always walking around rapping to himself, so he was an easy target.
“I just can’t help it. I’ll have to get a new target now though cos I injured Galey. I made his appendix pop. Ha ha!
“I don’t think I dare get him any more.”
Gale’s aforementioned appendix has been big news of late.
He required emergency surgery after feeling pain on a day off but returned in just 16 days to come up with the match-winning golden-point extra-time drop goal in Castleford’s epic semi-final win over St Helens.
That has sent Castleford, seeking a league championship ever since their inception in 1926, to a maiden Grand Final.
They surged to the League Leaders’ Shield, finishing 10 points ahead of second-placed Leeds, but tonight’s opponents are past masters at this time of year.
McShane, of course, hails from Belle Isle in South Leeds and started his career with the Rhinos without ever nailing down a regular first-team spot.
He debuted in 2009 but, for all his obvious talent, never featured in any of their three Grand Final final wins at the end of that season or in 2011 and 2012.
McShane did win a World Club Challenge after coming off the bench in the 2012 success over Manly Sea Eagles but spent most of that season on loan at Widnes Vikings and then left for Wakefield Trinity at the end of 2013.
The switch of Leeds legend Rob Burrow – who plays the final game of his career tonight – from scrum-half to hooker in 2011 probably reduced his chances.
“It maybe limited my time but I probably wasn’t ready as well,” conceded McShane.
“I’d been in and out of the team and I think it was time for me to go and learn the game properly and really settle down and find my feet.
“It was all left on good terms. It was about me progressing my career, going out and finding my way.
“I could have stayed. I had two years left but that would have meant sitting around maybe not playing.
“I’m grateful Leeds were honest with me about it and going to Wakey I got experience playing week in week before luckily getting to come to Cas,” he said.
McShane – now 27 and in contention for an England World Cup call after his stellar form piloting Tigers this term – picked up plenty of good habits at Headingley.
Former Australia hooker Danny Buderus was a big influence between 2009 and 2011.
“Bedsy was massive for me,” recalled McShane.
“He was an absolute legend of the game and probably taught me about commitment off the field.
“I was living at home with my parents still, eating whatever they cooked for me.
“I have two younger brothers so if I’d go home and my mam had made them pizza and chips it’d be easy for me just to pick at that.
“He showed me a side where you have to be a bit more committed than that.
“But I think it’s also made me mature a lot more since I left Leeds.
“I ended up moving out not long after I left Leeds and got a bit more independent.
“When I was about 21 I went on loan to Widnes and that was when I bought my first house.”
Castleford coach Daryl Powell has a talent for bringing the best out of players and he spotted untapped potential in McShane.
He recruited him in July 2015 and helped develop the robust hooker into one of the competition’s finest players whose midfield link with Gale, Benny Roberts and the now absent Zak Hardaker has been so pivotal to the Tigers stunning campaign.
McShane hopes to bring Leeds down tonight but does he feel he has unfinished business with Rhinos and would he ever consider a return to his hometown club?
“I absolutely love it at Cas,” he said.
“My wife loves it. My little boy will probably end up being a Cas fan.
“The club’s great. Even talking to people who were at the club when they weren’t having the good times it was still a great club to be involved with and real family-orientated.
“If I ended up finishing my career at Cas I’d be more than happy. I can’t wait for Saturday. We know it’ll be a massive game and what Leeds can do but we’re confident in what we are capable of.”
McShane will have someone dear to him high in his thoughts when he takes to the field for his first Grand Final.
His 14-year-old cousin Evan Hawksworth tragically died in July after suffering a head injury while playing for Wakefield side Stanley Rangers.
McShane said: “His parents are being strong.
“Knowing that the sport I play – my job and something I do – can be so mean at times, it’s not nice.
“But they are doing well. They come and watch Cas all the time.
“They still love their rugby and I think they have turned into Cas supporters. They bring his little sister. She’s got one of my shirts which she wears for every game and that’s good.
“He asks me every week how I’ve got on and hopefully they’ll be there Saturday, too.
“His dad gave me my first job when I was 17-years-old. I have a lot of respect for him and how he’s handled everything.
“The job was dry lining suspended ceilings.
“I wasn’t the best at school so he just gave me jobs of carrying plaster boards up flights of stairs; he didn’t trust with me cutting anything or putting anything up!”
Ten years on, Castleford certainly trust him now and if he masters his dummy-half play tonight, McShane and Tigers could finally be crowned Super League champions.