The 2016 season will go down as a campaign everyone at Huddersfield Giants will want to forget.
However, for Ryan Hinchcliffe, the agony and frustration of the year might be more excruciating.
The Australian arrived at the Giants with high expectations following an illustrious career in the NRL with Melbourne Storm, where he won the NRL Premiership and the World Club Challenge.
He arrived at Huddersfield as the answer, the saviour to their shortcomings in the big games at the end of the season.
But things took an unexpected twist. Collectively, the Giants fell way short and ultimately battled for Super League survival, and individually, Hinchcliffe was unable to fulfil his hype in a struggling side.
However, 2017 brings new opportunities, and in Hinchcliffe’s case, the chance to play in the loose-forward role where he became one of the most respected members of a star-studded Melbourne side featuring the likes of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith.
“Being a player coming over from Australia there were certain expectations and I suppose I didn’t feel like I filled those expectations,” Hinchcliffe told TotalRL.
“That’s hard to take. But I’m not one to whinge and whine, I know I have to be better and I know if I spend more time at 13 I can do what I’m good at. I think I’m more valuable to the team at 13.
“I just know I’ll be a lot more valuable to the team there. I can still do a role at nine but I’ve played my whole career at 13 and feel a lot more comfortable, hopefully, it’s for the better of the team that I get more time there.”
The 32-year-old’s opening season at Huddersfield wasn’t just a disappointment on the field. Away from the pitch, Hinchcliffe admitted that the vibe around the club wasn’t what he had envisaged before making the move from Down Under.
“It probably wasn’t as stable an environment as I thought it would be,” he said.
“It was a bit of a shock to be honest. There were a few instances in the team at the start of last year, there was a lot going on, to be honest.
“I think we have a squad that is hard-working and honest this year. No disrespect to players that were here last year, but it’s about the team this year, and what is best for the team. It’s quite a selfless squad and we’re going to look after each other.”