Castleford Tigers hooker Paul McShane readily concedes last season’s epic Super League semi-final win over St Helens will probably “live with me forever.”
That is no surprise given the remarkable events of that extraordinary, vacillating 23-22 golden-point extra-time glory at Wheldon Road.
The hope must be, though, that the subsequent 24-6 Grand Final loss to his former club Leeds Rhinos doesn’t linger for eternity, too.
Castleford – who finished top by a record 10 points last term but missed out on a maiden league title - will start out their quest to ensure it doesn’t when they visit Saints in tonight’s Super League opener.
McShane, 28, said: “I can’t wait for this. Pre-season seems like it has gone on forever and I am really chomping at the bit to get out there and get playing again.
“We know Saints are a good side, with some fantastic players; we need to be at our best to compete and win games like this.
“That semi-final will probably live with me forever, thinking we had lost the game and then to get it back the way we did – it was crazy.”
If Castleford are to repeat their general quality of last term – the Grand Final aberration aside – then they will need McShane to repeat his career-best form of 2017 when he emerged as one of the best hookers in the business.
Granted, it was not quite enough to earn the ex-Wakefield Trinity rake a first England cap, something many would argue his stellar performances warranted.
However, despite a call-up to the elite training squad, the form of an England veteran – Saints’ James Roby – put paid to that.
It was the 32-year-old who headed Down Under, starting in the World Cup final after Josh Hodgson’s knee injury.
The 2007 Man of Steel, who makes his 400th Saints appearance tonight and has been made captain for the first time, shows no sign of slowing up.
“I want to be testing myself against the best and I think, even though he’s getting a little bit older, in the World Cup he (Roby) showed he is still a world class No 9,” said McShane.
“He was probably one of our best players; he was outstanding.
“For me to go up against him now, I want to compete and try to be better again.”
McShane, who signed a new five-year deal at Castleford last month, said: “I would have loved to be a part of the World Cup.
“It looked like they had a real good group and they did well, reaching the final. Playing for England is something I really want to do and I am more focused than ever after just missing out last year.
“But the break probably did me good, just to get away from rugby and spend a bit of time with my family.”
Leeds-born McShane believes he can be “even better” in 2018 and feels Castleford can, too.
Admittedly, they have not won at St Helens since 1992, a wretched and baffling record.
“People talk about us not winning there – but we just need to go and get the job done,” he said.
Getting the job done. That will be Castleford’s mantra in 2018.