HUDDERSFIELD Giants captain Leroy Cudjoe says the squad is intent on sending retiring Ryan Hinchcliffe out on a “high” in Perpignan this evening.
The former Melbourne Storm star, 33, plays his final game of professional rugby league when the West Yorkshire club face Catalans Dragons in their last fixture of the campaign.
Huddersfield, who have lost their last four games, were unable to give Australian loose forward Hinchcliffe the perfect send-off at home when were edged 13-6 against Wigan Warriors in the Super 8s last week.
But Cudjoe – who hopes to return from injury – said: “It is the last time this team will play together with Hinchy retiring.
“He’s been a massive part of the team and we want to send him out on a high in his last game.
“It’s very important to finish on a high as a whole, too.
“We are building for next year and it’s key to finish with a performance to take into the pre-season.
“We also owe the fans and sponsors for all the support they’ve given us over the year which has been top class.”
Huddersfield secured a top-eight place after once being marooned at the bottom but they have high hopes for 2019 after new coach Simon Woolford turned them around.
Firstly, though, Cudjoe comes up against another coach he is familiar with.
Catalans chief Steve McNamara gave the long-serving centre his England debut back in 2010 and – after spells in the NRL – has returned to Super League to invigorate the French club.
They won their first-ever Challenge Cup last month and Cudjoe said: “I know Steve really well from my time with England.
“He’s a very good coach and I always knew he would do a good job given the time at the right club and he’s found that at Catalans.
“I think what’s surprised everyone is how quickly they’ve got success with the Challenge Cup which was well deserved.”
Cudjoe has come back strongly after missing the first part of the year with a serious knee injury.
But he has been impressed with one trio in particular.
“Some players have stood out in different parts of the season,” said the 30-year-old.
“But for me Adam O’Brien and Paul Clough have been consistent all year along with Hinchy.
“So, it didn’t surprise me that all three won awards the other night and got the recognition they deserve.
“Now we need to just finish off with that win in France,” added Cudjoe.
Hinchcliffe has spent the last three years with the Fartowners but returns to Victoria to work on the coaching staff of NRL champions Storm who defend their title in tomorrow’s Grand Final against Sydney Roosters.
Cudjoe, England winger Jermaine McGillvary and teenager Louis Senior are back in contention for Huddersfield who fly out to France this morning and return this evening.
Ukuma Ta’ai, Sam Hewitt and Jon Luke Kirby drop out of the squad while Catalans are without Lance Todd Trophy winner Tony Gigot and Kiwi Kenny Edwards.