Shenton eyes dream final
England international Michael Shenton hopes his past and present clubs can reach Wembley.
Last Updated: 05/08/11 4:27pm
England international Michael Shenton left his hometown club Castleford for St Helens in a bid to play on the big stage and will be hoping for the best of both worlds this weekend when his past and present clubs bid to reach Wembley.
Shenton will play in Saturday's first Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium before putting his feet up to watch his former team-mates take on Leeds in the other semi-final derby at Doncaster 24 hours later.
Wigan and Leeds are the favourites to go through to the August 27 final but a Saints-Castleford showdown would suit Shenton, who still has a strong affection for his old club.
"That's the ideal situation but obviously we've a massive hurdle in front of us in the shape of Wigan Warriors," he said.
"I'm expecting to be sore so I'll watch Sunday's game on the TV with my friends.
"I'm really happy for Cas and I do follow what they're doing but I've got enough on my plate. It's my first semi-final - it's why I came to Saints - and I've got to enjoy it."
Shenton, who spent seven seasons with Castleford before leaving at the end of last year, will be playing in his fourth Wigan-Saints derby looking for his first success after the Warriors followed up their opening-day draw in Cardiff with home and away Super League victories.
"They did a number on us last time so we've a lot to prove," said Shenton, referring to Wigan's 32-10 win at the Stobart Stadium in June.
"They've got quality throughout their team but we're not really worried about that, we've got to focus on what we do.
"I suppose people say we've snuck under the radar a bit but we've produced some quality performances at times. We're third in the table and in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup so it's not too bad a place to be."
St Helens coach Royce Simmons has included prop James Graham in his 19-man squad despite him struggling with a neck and back problem and expects him to pass a fitness test later today.
Second rower Sia Soliola and centre Francis Meli return from injury, while forward Paul Clough is also named after coming through the club's under-20s match against Castleford last weekend.
Wigan coach Michael Maguire recalls second-rower Harrison Hansen, who was rested for last week's win at Hull, and has prop Paul Prescott back from injury.