The 32-year-old – who seems set for the loose-forward position this season – was hurt by the club’s misery last term, when he was making his first foray into Super League after signing from
Melbourne Storm, and being appointed captain.
Experienced Hinchcliffe says coach Rick Stone has overseen a thorough review of what went on and an equally thorough
preparation for the new season, which gets under way at Widnes on Friday night.
Twice an NRL Grand Final
winner with Melbourne – he also started their World Club
Challenge victory over Leeds in 2013 at loose forward – Hinchcliffe (a vice-captain to Leroy Cudjoe this time around) is determined to ensure a fresh start for everyone.
“There’s been some turnover in the squad and staff (since last
season) and we’ve put in a hell of a lot of hard work, both on the
training ground and in the gym, and hopefully that will put us in good stead,” he explained.
“The lads are looking forward to it because Rick has put us through the wringer.
“We reflected on last year and reviewed it and recognised there were a fair few areas we needed to improve and be a lot better.
“The players have taken that on board and we will be a lot better prepared this year. We looked at everything we did, and (when it came to improving) pre-season was our No1.
“We have put some real hard work in to give ourselves a base and, when you do that, you give yourselves the best chance of
winning a fair few games.
“The lads have grafted on the field and in the gym, we’ve had some tough hill-running and wrestle sessions back-to-back, and that has fully challenged our group both physically and mentally and hopefully sets us up well.”
Hinchcliffe admits his transition to England was “challenging” because of the Giants’ turmoil at the bottom of the table, but he’s keen to reward the fans for what they went through last season with much more to cheer this time around.
“The aim is to learn from last year, which I think we will, and we want to be better, simple as that,” said the Aussie star, who broke through at Canberra Raiders before signing for the Storm.
“We have a game style that we want to get everyone on the same page with, and what we want to be known for this year, and it’s just about everyone being a lot more consistent.
“Everyone being on the same page is a huge thing for us, and being a little bit more composed. These are the things we’ve talked about and, hopefully, from the start of the season we will see them in progress.
“I’m really committed and want to make sure this year is an enjoyable one for the club and the fans.
“Having come through what we came through last year, everyone feels a sense of responsibility to be a lot better – right across the board.”
Hinchcliffe agrees whole-
heartedly with coach Stone that the Giants must improve their ‘points against’ column to stand any chance of challenging in the top eight.
“Defence is the backbone of any good side – the teams that win this competition always do so on the back of their defence,” added Hinchcliffe, who is from Temora in New South Wales.
“We had too much focus on our attack last year, thinking it would get us out of trouble when, in fact, it was quite the opposite.
“So that was a bit of mentality we had to try and change, and we’ve put a lot of work into our defence with the boys working really hard.
“I think they’ve come to understand how important defence is and that’s been our priority, because if you get your defence right, the attack tends to look after itself.”