5:58 An emotional Paul McShane spoke to Sky Sports’ Brian Carney after being named the 2020 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel.
Even so, McShane winning the Man of Steel is something of an outlier. He is the first player since 2011 to win the award with his team having failed to qualify for the play-offs – that being another former Cas star, Rangi Chase – and, at 31, the oldest since Huddersfield Giants full-back Brett Hodgson won it at the same age 11 years ago.
But him carrying on the impressive displays he produced pre-lockdown, even amid Castleford’s struggles since the pandemic-affected Super League season resumed in early August, have not gone unnoticed by the Man of Steel panel which is comprised of a number of notable former players.
The regular-season statistics bear out McShane’s impact too. For starters, only Clark – now of Warrington Wolves – made more metres from scoots and they were the only two players to cover over 1,000 metres with those runs from dummy-half.
McShane had a higher average gain per carry (9.5m) than Clark (8.6m) from 20 fewer carries as well, while prior to the play-offs he was second among hookers – behind only Wigan’s Sam Powell (705) – for the number of tackles made and sixth in Super League overall with 604 at a 92 per cent success rate.
Of the 50 kicks he made, 17 of those were retained too, while his ability to deputise at scrum-half has proven useful to the Tigers on occasions as well. But there are other assets McShane has which cannot be measured by numbers which Powell also hailed.
“Paul has had an incredible season and has been fantastic for us for a number of years, so this is a massive pat on the back for how he has grown as a player since joining Castleford,” Powell said.
“He has matured off the field since he’s been at the club and his leadership continues to grow all the time.
“As a player, he is one of the best nines in the game bar none and his all-round game is fantastic. He’s a champion player and we’re glad to have him.”
1:17 Paul McShane has been in impressive form for Castleford throughout 2020
McShane’s form has seen him earn a place in England head coach Shaun Wane’s performance squad as well and if that continues, he would be firmly in contention for a place in the team to contest next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
International honours remain one of his targets, along with lifting a major honour with Castleford after helping them to the League Leaders’ Shield and a maiden Super League Grand Final appearance in 2017.
“I want to win something with Cas – I’m really desperate to do that – and I want to play for my country,” McShane said. “It’s something I haven’t done yet, and I’m really passionate about it and really want to do it.
“It’s down to me. I just need to keep performing and hopefully I can push my way into his plans. We’ve had a couple of conversations and speaking to him [Wane] he buzzes me up about how passionate he is about England.
“I’m looking forward to next year already, I still feel I am going to improve, so I think it’s down to me to get myself in there.”