For the second straight season, Melbourne will bid farewell to a favourite son.
Ryan Hinchcliffe has announced he will depart the club at season’s end after signing a three-year deal with Super League side Huddersfield Giants.
The 30-year-old has endeared himself to the purple faithful during his 156 games for the Storm since arriving from the Canberra Raiders, where he played 21 games, before make the switch south at the end of 2008.
Hinchcliffe had been a pillar at lock through the Storm’s sustained era of success but was moved to the bench this season following the addition of Dale Finucane over the summer.
The beloved veteran said his decision to play out the twilight of his career abroad was not one that came easily.
“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.”
It is a similar story to Ryan Hoffman, who 12 months ago accepted a more lucrative offer to play out the remainder of his career with the Warriors.
Both Hinchcliffe and Hoffman are held in equally high regard at Melbourne with coach Craig Bellamy paying a fitting tribute to the man who had held the No.13 in his side for the previous six seasons.
“Losing one of our favourite sons won’t be easy, he has been one of the very best clubmen 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.
“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 was named the club’s Player of the Year in 2010 and has been a member of the leadership group for the past five seasons.