Ryan Hinchcliffe is hopeful that brighter times lie ahead for both himself at Huddersfield as they look to continue their assault on the Super League play-off places tonight.
Traditionally a loose-forward, Hinchcliffe spent most of a chastening 2016 season for both himself and his club at hooker, as the Giants narrowly avoided the perils of the Million Pound Game.
But after Kruise Leeming established himself as the club’s starting hooker this year, Hinchcliffe has thrived back at 13, helping Huddersfield secure a top-eight finish ahead of tonight’s trip to Hull.
He said: “Everyone knows last year was tough year for me personally but I’ve put that behind me and i’m just glad I’m contributing to the team every week and the team’s doing well. I’m happy to play my part in it
“It (loose-forward) has been a position I played for 10 years in the NRL.
“I obviously filled in at hooker but it’s a different competition over there, the way hooker is played, compared to here. All that together made things a bit challenging for myself. I’m just happy I’m in a position I’m a lot more comfortable in and it’s a lot more beneficial for the team, which is the main thing.”
Huddersfield head to fifth-placed Hull tonight looking to claw back further ground on the top four – and having avoided the Qualifiers this year, Hinchcliffe believes the Giants can thrive in a seven-week period where the pressure is firmly off.
He said: “We can focus on enjoying our rugby over the next couple of months as opposed to playing under that type of pressure every week.
“I think it’s something the group has really earned and deserved: to be able to play for the love of the game, to chase that top four and be in some games that can be really exciting for us as a team. It’s a lot better circumstances to play under.
“It’s a new challenge for us now. We’ve reached one of our goals at end of the season and we now have a chance to kick on.”