Ryan Hinchcliffe announced his retirement from playing Rugby League earlier this week with a spot on Melbourne Storm’s coaching team now confirmed.
His departure will leave an undoubted hole in the Giants side. Hinchcliffe has been a reliable performer for three years and one of Super League’s most underrated players.
With all their retentions at the start of the season along with the signing of Suaia Matagi and Tom Holmes, along with Akuila Uate’s expected arrival, cap space won’t be at a luxury for the Giants. But should they find some money to work with, here are six players they could look to as a replacement.
The NRL import has proved to be an excellent signing for the Catalans Dragons after his mid-season move from Parramatta Eels.
His arrival has coincided with the Dragons’ major up-turn in form, and of course, their Challenge Cup run right up to victory in last month’s victory at Wembley.
His future isn’t, however, sorted and Huddersfield have been linked with a move for the back-rower.
Joe Westerman appears to be likely to sign for an extra year at Hull after his return to the KC Stadium, but it is still not yet tied down to a deal for next year.
His move from Toronto, after only a few months with the Canadian side, was marred by a knee injury picked up in Hull’s big defeat to Wakefield. But, in his five games for Hull, he has impressed.
A good ball player, Westerman could provide the Giants with something a little bit different.
The hooker is widely recognised as one of the brightest talents outside of Super League at the moment.
He played a part in London’s opening round victory over Widnes Vikings in the Qualifiers in the halves and has been named in the England Knights squad both times this season; the only Championship player to achieve that.
If London don’t manage to gain promotion this season, Cunningham may look to move on with Huddersfield showing an interest in the former Hull FC man.
Matt Whitley has been one of the shining lights in an otherwise miserable campaign for the Vikings.
If Widnes are relegated – after losing their opening three games they’ll do well to avoid the drop, then suitors will surely circle for the back-rower who would be a useful addition for every Super League team.
The experienced hooker’s future is still up in the air with the 33-year-old out of contract at the end of the season.
Huddersfield do already have both Kruise Leeming and Adam O’Brien on the books but Aiton is equally capable of playing at loose-forward, like Hinchcliffe, as he proved in the World Cup for Papua New Guinea.
Aiton is a clever player who has been there and done most things in Rugby League. He could be a good player to help Huddersfield’s younger hookers as a mentor as much as anything else.
Having already announced he will depart St Helens, a club with which he’s played since 2003, Wilkin is yet to announce his destination.
At 34 years old, Wilkin might believe it’s time to return to his first club, Hull KR. But Huddersfield could also work for the second-rower.
It’s clear that Huddersfield will be looking for a leader to replace Hinchcliffe, Wilkin could fit the bill.