England coach Shaun Wane says Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane has captain potential

England head coach Shaun Wane has outlined what Paul McShane must do to make his 2021 Rugby League World Cup side - and even spoken of the uncapped Castleford Tigers hooker as a potential captain of his country.

The 31-year-old was picked in Wane’s elite training squad last March but missed out on the chance to make a Test debut after the Ashes series was cancelled due to Covid.

He still excelled in a struggling Castleford side, however, and ended the campaign by being named Steve Prescott Man of Steel.

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Despite being so consistent in Super League, the former Leeds Rhinos rake was consistently overlooked by previous England coach Wayne Bennett.

He hopes to finally get an opportunity to shine under Wane although hooker is arguably the country’s strongest position with world-class veteran James Roby and Warrington’s former Castleford star Daryl Clark - both previous Man of Steel winners - plus Canberra Raiders star Josh Hodgson all in the squad.

Asked what Leeds-born McShane needs to do to make the England side for the World Cup opener in Newcastle on October 23, Wane said: “Defend well: show to me he can handle big bodies.

“We play Samoa and they are physically a lot bigger than us.

“I rate Paul McShane, I have always rated him.

Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane (Alex Whitehead/SWPIX)

“He is a really really good player and he proved that last year for Castleford.

“His one-on-one D [defence] needs to be better, but I could say that about every England player.

“I am happy with the players, but I am not satisfied with them.

“I know every single player can improve.”

Wane, who has still failed to even hold an on-field training session with his squad due to the pandemic, said he is due to speak to McShane tonight along with St Helens’ Jonny Lomax.

“We’ll go through the fine detail of their game they need to improve on,” he said.

But Wane added: “When it comes to October and I am picking my team and Paul McShane is playing the way he is, then [he] gets picked.”

Wane also needs a new captain after England veteran Sean O’Loughlin, his former skipper from his Wigan Warriors days, retired at the end of last season at the age of 38.

He said it has not been his priority - “I’m just concentrating on trying to see my players first of all!” - but added: “There are some obvious ones.

“Lockers is irreplaceable as a player and a leader but it's our job to make the next players coming through - your Jonny Lomaxs, John Batemans - leaders and get them to step up and just be better at it.

“There’s Sam Tomkins and people like Paul McShane: you see what he does at Cas, he drives them forward and when Cas are on, he's the main person.

“If you play for England, you would have leadership qualities in your game anyway.”

Wane also had encouraging words for Harry Newman, the young Leeds Rhinos centre who is recovering from an horrific double leg break.

The 20-year-old - who has advanced through the England Academy and Knights sides - was called into his elite performance squad before suffering that injury in September.

Newman was named Super League’s Young Player of the Year despite making just a dozen appearances, a sign of his quality, and Wane said: “I am a big fan.

“He needs to improve in quite a few areas, like everybody else, but he is a really good player, a good athlete.

“He is having an enforced break now, unfortunately, but (injured Leeds scrum-half) Luke Gale is exactly the same.

“I sent Luke a message saying this is a time when you need to get stronger, fitter, better - come back a better player, find a way.

“It is the same with Harry; I like him a lot and I can see me starting with him in October.

“I am a big fan of his, but like every single other player there are things he needs to get better at.”