Castleford captain and former Saints centre Michael Shenton to hang up boots
Castleford’s long-serving captain Michael Shenton has announced he will bring his 18-year career to a close at the end of the season but hopes to stay in the game.
The 35-year-old former England centre made his debut for his home-town team in 2004 and has captained them for the last nine years following his return from a two-year stint at St Helens.
Shenton, who has made 345 appearances so far for the Tigers, says the departure of long-serving coach Daryl Powell at the end of the year helped influence his decision but admits the time is right to hang up his boots.
“It’s not a decision I made lightly but it was one I made quite a while ago,” he said.
“Leading into the season, I knew there were going to be big changes at the club and big changes in the dynamic of the team.
“Obviously me and Daryl are very close and he was ready for a new challenge.
“Eighteen years playing professional rugby league is helluva long time and I just think the way my body is feeling and mentally going though another pre-season and a new coach coming in, it’s the right decision to call it a day.
“For me to be able to get to 35 and still be playing at the top level has been great for me and to call it on my own terms is a big reason for it.”
With Grant Millington also retiring, Oliver Holmes and Peter Mata’utia following Powell to Warrington and Jesse Sene-Lefao and Alex Foster also leaving the club, Shenton says it is the end of an era but insists there are plenty of candidates around to succeed him as captain.
“It’s time for someone else to take on the role and there are some great players here who have really grown as leaders, people like Paul McShane, Nathan Massey and Adam Milner,” he said.
Powell, who will be succeeded at Castleford in 2022 by former Hull boss Lee Radford, said: “Michael Shenton is just class, class as a bloke, as a family man, as a player and as a leader.
“He deserves all the accolades he gets because he has been absolutely phenomenal for the Tigers.”
Shenton twice helped Castleford win their place back in Super League following relegation in 2004 and 2006 and led them to a first League Leaders’ Shield in 2017.
He has also led them out twice at Wembley and in 2017 added a Grand Final runners-up medal to the one he collected with St Helens in 2011.
Shenton, who won 12 England caps, will run out for the last time at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Thursday when the Tigers bring down the curtain on the regular season against Warrington, a game they need to win to secure a play-off spot.
“My brain is trying to block that out at the minute,” he said “It’s been such a massive part of my life and the last time to properly grace the field will be huge.
“At the same time I’ve got a job to do and I will have to control my emotions but it will be emotional.
“Hopefully it’s beginning of another little journey for us, that play-off series starts now.”
Shenton has a degree in sports business management but says coaching could be an option and he is currently working on his coaching qualifications.
“Hopefully I get to stay in the game,” he said. “I’d love to help the game progress because I think there’s a few changes in the game we need to make.”