Castleford Tigers have confirmed their Captain and Vice-Captain for the 2023 Betfred Super League season.
Hooker Paul McShane will continue his role as Club Captain and second-row Alex Mellor will make the step up to Vice-Captain for the new campaign.
The Fords’ star nine McShane is well-known as one of the best players in his position in Super League, receiving the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award back in 2020.
Now going into his ninth season in Cas colours, the 33-year-old is only three matches away from reaching 200 appearances for the Tigers, and McShane is looking forward to leading his side out again this term.
“I’m really proud and really happy. I love playing for Cas so to be honoured with the captaincy, it’s great. I love leading the lads out every week, but we’ve got plenty of blokes out on the field who have a lot of experience who also help out.”
McShane will be joined by Mellor as his Vice-Captain and the back-rower is someone whom the Tigers’ skipper claims has really found his feet during his short time at Wheldon Road.
“Mels came in halfway through the season but from his first week he’s shown he trains the way he plays, and he puts it all out there on the training field, that’s the example you want to set. He comes from a good pedigree of playing for some good clubs with big players around him and you can see that by how he goes about things.”
Castleford’s season opener is just around the corner with the Fords travelling east to Hull and the MKM Stadium to face FC.
Looking ahead to what should be a fiery all-Yorkshire clash, McShane put forward that the squad are ready and raring to go for kick-off on Sunday.
“We’re just ready to go now for the season and we really want to make a good start. Everyone is fit and raring to go so hopefully it will be a good one.”
New Vice-Captain Mellor linked up with the Tigers in June 2022 and has made an immediate impact since making the switch to Wheldon Road.
After joining from Leeds Rhinos, the 28-year-old has been a mainstay in the Cas starting 13, forming a solid second-row partnership with Kenny Edwards.
When speaking to castlefordtigers.com about stepping up to his leadership role, Mellor stated that he is delighted with his new position.
“It feels really good. I am really honoured and grateful to get it! It’s not something I initially expected at the start of the year but it’s something that I am really looking forward to grabbing with both hands.”
Ahead of training on Monday, it was announced to the squad that Mellor will be joining McShane as Vice-Captain, and Castleford’s #12 outlined that it was a special moment to see the warm reception he received from his fellow players.
“One morning he (Lee Radford) pulled me into his office. I didn’t know what it was about because you always think you are in trouble when that happens, but he told me that I was going to be the vice-captain for the year, so it was nice news to receive.
“The lads’ reaction was really good, and they were buzzing for me. Getting the recognition of your teammates is massive and it makes you feel good when it comes from them.”
Despite being at the Club for just over six months, Alex has taken to life at Wheldon Road like a duck to water and he attributes his smooth transition to the Tigers to the close-knit nature of the squad.
“It’s a real family sort of club because everyone is really close, and you feel like you can approach everyone. We’re all on the same level because we’re switched on when we need to be and when you are off the field everyone can have a laugh, so it’s suited me down to the ground.
“Radders helped make that transition a smooth one for me by really welcoming me. The lads were exactly the same because you play one game with them, and you feel like you know them straight away.”
Now entering his eleventh year as a professional, Mellor explained that taking the younger players within the Tigers’ setup under his wing is something that comes naturally to him, although he is still eager to learn more from Captain McShane.
“I like being that voice that anyone can come up to and I’ll always make myself available to speak to anyone. I always like to feel that I can bridge a gap between the coaches and the young players if they need that or offer any advice. It’s something I enjoy doing. Someone I’ve always looked up to is Macca because I think he has got really good leadership skills and he’s someone I’ll be learning from.”
Head Coach Lee Radford described why McShane and Mellor will make an impact as a leadership duo in 2023.
“It’s Macca’s second year as captain now and I know from my own experience the responsibilities and challenges that come with it. I believe you’re definitely better in that second year with the experience behind you.
“Mellor has a lot of leadership qualities and goes about his business the right way. We are hopeful that he can progress at the club in terms of his game and as a person with his leadership skills as well.”