One of the most respected players at the Melbourne Storm and perhaps one of their most under-rated, Ryan Hinchcliffe’s time at the club will come to an end at the end of the season.
The utility will embark on a new challenge in the Super League, signing with the Huddersfield Giants for the next three seasons.
Melbourne has been home for Hinchcliffe for the last seven years but for his family, the move to England is the best option and one he will look forward to.
â€œThe decision to leave Melbourne Storm was an extremely difficult one to make, however I feel it was the right one to make for my family at this stage of my career,â€ Hinchcliffe said.
â€œIâ€™m excited to join Huddersfield and thankful for the opportunity to extend my career, my priority though remains playing well for Melbourne Storm and working hard to try and achieve the ultimate success with my teammates.
Having been coached by Craig Bellamy the entire time at the Storm, Hinchcliffe was grateful for the support he has received over the years from the veteran coach.
â€œI canâ€™t thank Craig Bellamy enough for all he has done for me and the opportunity he gave me at Storm to learn how to be a first grade footballer,” said Hinchcliffe.
The utility is also thankful for the way the club have treated him over the years and for the fans and their kindness towards him in that time.
â€œMelbourne Storm is a special Club with great people and Iâ€™m thankful for the teammates Iâ€™ve had at Storm along with the coaches and staff,” said Hinchcliffe.
â€œIâ€™m appreciative of all the support Iâ€™ve received from the fans while Iâ€™ve been at Melbourne, they are the best in the competition and I know theyâ€™ll be right behind the team for the rest of the season.â€
Playing in 184 NRL games to date, 163 of which have come in Melbourne, he will remain in the club’s top 10 list for most games played by a Storm player and can go as high as sixth on the list.
Born and raised in Temora, Hinchcliffe has been an unsung hero for the Storm over the years and his departure is one that has coach Bellamy disappointed.
â€œLosing one of our favourite sons wonâ€™t be easy, he has been one of the very best clubman Iâ€™ve come across during my time in rugby league,â€ Bellamy said.
â€œHe is a very tough character, he plays well above his weight, is extremely resilient and selfless.
â€œHinchy is very highly regarded at our Club, the players have a lot of respect for what he does every week and he drives a lot of our standards around our Storm traits.”
There was nothing but praise from Bellamy, as he explained just how important Hinchcliffe has been to the Storm over the last seven years.
â€œEvery week Hinchy just goes out and does his job, you know exactly what heâ€™s going to give you and as a coach you couldnâ€™t ask any more from a player,” said Bellamy.
“Hinchyâ€™s got a tremendous work ethic both on and off the field, he is a great guy, everyone enjoys his company and he just typifies what our Club is about.â€
With Huddersfield confirming the signing of Hinchcliffe, they are excited at the prospect of having a veteran like Hinchcliffe within their club and system.
â€œThis is a huge signing for our club and in truth, Ryan has been our number one target to bring in for quite some time now,” said Giants coach, Paul Anderson.
“He is a quality nine but equally at home at loose forward.
He has been in one of the best environments in Rugby League at Melbourne for seven years now being an automatic pick in the side.”
Having tracked Hinchcliffe for a while, Anderson is pleased with the things he has seen from the Melbourne utility.
“His defensive efforts are up there with the best and I particularly like what he will bring with his leadership and experience in big games,” said Anderson.
“You simply donâ€™t get to lead the Melbourne Storm side out unless you have very special qualities and his NRL record is outstanding. We are looking forward immensely to welcoming him and his family to our club.â€