MICHAEL Shenton says he is revelling in the greater expectations being placed on him at Saints.
The 24-year-old (pictured) joined St Helens at the end of last season from Castlefield Tigers where he stood out as an outstanding player in a side which often struggled for form.
“No disrespect to Cas but here you’re surrounded by international, top quality players every day in training,” Shenton told The Reporter, “and if you’re not at the top of your game every day then you stick out like a sore thumb.”
Shenton, who is expected to make his Saints debut in Saturday’s friendly against Widnes, spent six seasons with the Tigers before joining St Helens on a three year deal at the end of 2010.
Ironically, his last game for his old side was a defeat to his new employers in the final league game at Knowsley Road.
But Shenton says the new team – which includes Aussie prop Josh Perry – have gelled quickly into what is shaping up to be a formidable unit.
“We’re working really well in training,” said the England centre.
“Royce and his coaching team have got the boys really fit and it’s going really well.
“Away from the training field as well, all the lads here are really good, really welcoming and it’s easy to fit in really quickly.
“But coming to Saints you are know what is expected of you. You know the expectations of the fans. The pressure is there to win trophies and obviously that’s what we want as well.”
Shenton ended his six-year stint at Castlefield with an impressive strike rate, crossing the whitewash 93 times during 153 games,
Former coach Dave Woods compared him to Aussie legend Luke Lewis because of his skill levels and on-field physical presence. Standing 6”4’, he’ll form a sizeable trio in the three-quarters with Sia Soliala and Francis Meli.
“Sia will play in the second row as well as centre, but we’ve got Francis Meli there as well,” said Shenton.
“Sia has the versatility to play in a wide variety positions but both he and Francis are huge guys as well as a great athletes. When you see them in training, you’re just glad they are going to be playing on your side.”
Shenton was one of the stand-out performers during England’s ill-fated 2010 tour Down Under for the Four Nations tournament before an ankle injury – which has now completed healed – cut short his involvement.
“It was disappointing to get an injury like that, especially on my first ever tour,” said Pontefract-born Shenton. “The England physios did a great job and it’s fine now. You have to expect things like that to happen when you play rugby league.”
Saints go into next season desperate to end an uncharacteristic barren spell which has seen them go without a trophy since 2006. Shenton says he knows what is expected of the club ... and the squad and coaching staff are determined to deliver.
“We’ve not sat down together and said, ‘we’ve got to achievement this and this’, but we going really well in training and it is exciting,” said Shenton.
“We’ve just been doing the core work and getting the skill levels right. The whole squad and playing staff are working really hard. The trophies come from doing the hard work and getting the team playing right – that’s what we’re working towards.”