McShane gets wise to what helps make true champions

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ACCORDING to Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott, part of Paul McShane’s problem is he thinks too quick for the rest of his team-mates.

However, it is also an asset that, with a little fine-tuning, could yet make the aspiring local hooker a star for years to come.

McShane, 23, hopes to be involved against Hull FC on the opening night of the Super League season, having spent much of the last campaign on loan at bottom-placed Widnes.

Since he emerged from Leeds’s academy, a raft of quality rakes – Matt Diskin, Danny Buderus and Rob Burrow to name three – have at different times restricted the minutes he has amassed but it is undeniable the player from Hunslet Parkside has talent.

Often, though, for every couple of exhilarating flashes of brilliance there would follow a glaring ill-conceived play which would dwell long in the memory.

“That’s his strength as a player,” McDermott told the Yorkshire Post. “By all accounts, talking to Bob Pickles – our main scout for a lot of years – as a junior Paul could play prop, seven, full-back, wing and do them all at ease.

“He’s one of those naturally gifted types who probably thinks quicker than everyone else; he’s putting a play on before everyone else is ready for it, thinking two or three plays in front.

“Some of that is unrealistic but some is very possible and we don’t want to lose that; that’s what makes him a very special player. It’s just choosing when to do it in our team.

“Mac has probably been the main star of every side he’s played in from the age of six and comes into a team here where, if someone commands the ball like a (Jamie) Peacock, (Kev) Sinfield or Burrow, he gives them it.

“That’s something he has to get used to but he had a good year at Widnes and he needed to go and experience something else.

“He’ll have learned some things there and is now heading in the right direction at trying to nail a shirt week in, week out here.”

McShane appeared in Leeds’s World Club Challenge success last February but those inconsistencies eventually cost him his place when Shaun Lunt arrived on loan from Huddersfield and he had to watch from afar as Leeds went on to defend their league title.

However, he made six starts at Widnes and flourished, admitting: “Last year I was still learning my trade so going out on loan definitely benefitted me.

“Before, with not playing long game time, I never really got the grind of the game and how hard it really is. Playing 60 to 80 minutes I’ve found that out now.

“It’s good to be back. I just need to find consistency.”

To do that, he knows he must eradicate an over-reliance on that “killer ball”.

“I don’t need to go for the ten out of ten plays,” he says. “It’s the seven out of tens that brings you the consistency week in, week out. I realise that now.”