Melbourne Storm forward Ryan Hinchcliffe has accepted a three-year offer to join Super League club Huddersfield Giants from next season.
One of Storm’s most respected players, Hinchcliffe made the extremely tough decision after calling Melbourne home for the past seven years.
“The 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,” Hinchcliffe said
“I’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.
“I can’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.
“Melbourne Storm is a special Club with great people and I’m thankful for the teammates I’ve had at Storm along with the coaches and staff.
“I’m appreciative of all the support I’ve received from the fans while I’ve been at Melbourne, they are the best in the competition and I know they’ll be right behind the team for the rest of the season.”
The 30-year old has played 184 NRL games, of which 163 have been in purple, placing him in eighth position on the Club's all-time games played list. By season’s end Hinchcliffe could sit in sixth position.
Since moving south, the Temora born and raised utility forward hasn't looked back, missing just six games since his Storm debut in 2009 and becoming an integral part of Craig Bellamy's line-up.
Storm Head Coach Craig Bellamy said the Club was extremely disappointed to lose Hinchcliffe.
“Losing one of our favourite sons won’t be easy, he has been one of the very best clubman I’ve come across during my time in rugby league,” Bellamy said.
“He is a very tough character, he plays well above his weight, is extremely resilient and selfless.
“Hinchy 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.
“Every week Hinchy just goes out and does his job, you know exactly what he’s going to give you and as a coach you couldn’t ask any more from a player.
"Hinchy’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.”
Hinchcliffe’s time at Melbourne has seen him rewarded for his outstanding performances. He won the Club’s Player of the Year award in 2010 and was runner-up in 2011. Hinchcliffe has also been impressive in his Country Origin three games, winning Man of the Match in 2011.
He has played in two winning grand finals (2009 and 2012) and World Club Challenges (2010 and 2013). He has captained the Club on three occasions and has been a member of Storm’s leadership group since 2011.
Hinchcliffe joined Melbourne from Canberra at the conclusion of the 2008 season after making 21 first-grade appearances with the Raiders.