10th June 2017, 07:54 | Castleford
On the eve of his 500th career appearance Andy Lynch has confirmed that 2017 will be his final season.
The 37-year old will go down as one of the all time great players of the Super League era. He currently sits in second place on the all time Super League appearances list and could still pass Kevin Sinfield, who sits in first, by the end of this season.
Lynch made his professional debut back in 1999 with the Tigers as a 19-year old after coming through the Castleford Academy ranks.
While with the Tigers, Lynch represented Yorkshire and England while also being selected in the 2003 Super League Dream Team.
Lynch had two years with the Arlie Birds in 2012 & 2013
One appearance in a GB shirt came in 2007 against France
Following the Tiger's relegation in 2004, Lynch headed to Bradford Bulls where he spent six years, helping the Bulls win the World Club Challenge in 2006, beating Wests Tigers, 30-10.
2006 proved to be one of Lynch’s best of his career at Bradford, earning a call up to the Great Britain squad for the 2006 Tri-Nations tournament although he did not feature in any games. Lynch’s chance to play for Great Britain did come the following year when he played in a test match against France. Injuries in 2008 ruled the forward out of England’s Rugby League World Cup squad.
The Bulls performances started to drop and in 2011, Lynch was on the move this time to Hull FC where he signed a two-year deal and was named captain.
Lynch then re-joined the club where it all began, Castleford Tigers. He signed an initial two-year deal back in 2014 but his continued good form earnt the now 37-year old an extended contract.
Lynch first appeared for Cas in 1999
Lynch made over 200 appearances for Bradford
Andy Lynch helped the team make it all the way to the Challenge Cup Final in 2014 and he has been a key leader of the team since Daryl Powell joined the club.
Tomorrow Andy Lynch will make his 500th career appearance, an achievement not many players will reach in the modern game, and it’s certainly one he is proud of: “It’s an amazing achievement for me to up there with the best, and some great guys, Rob Burrows, Keith Senior and Kevin Sinfield to name a few. I’m really proud to reach this fantastic milestone in my career.”
The decision to retire has not been an easy one for Lynch: “I discussed it a lot with my wife April and we decided it’s the right time for me now to look to the next chapter of my life. My three boys are at that age now where I need to be there more at the weekend, they are all playing sports and I’ve already missed out on a lot with them. It’s now time to turn the tables and for me to spend my weekend watching by boys play sports.”
With the Tigers sitting at the top of the table it would certainly be a dream come true for Lynch to end his career with silverware: “There is still a long way to go for us this season and we will take each game one at a time and work hard to chalk off the wins each week but to bring a trophy back to this club and this town would mean everything to me! It’s been part of my life since I was 15, I love this club and I will always be a Castleford fan, bringing a trophy home this season would just be a brilliant way to sign off on a career I have truly loved.”
Tigers head coach Daryl Powel has nothing but praise for a player he describes as an ‘absolute professional’: “Lynchy has been an awesome player over many years, 500 Rugby League games is a lot of games, he’s a big man and he does a lot of minutes so it’s a fine achievement!”
Powell added: “Andy has been an awesome contributor to this club and to Rugby League in general. He’s a great leader and a great driver of standards around the place.500 games in the modern game is tough, it’s a physical game and it’s huge to reach 500 games, not many players get to it nowadays and it’s a great achievement.”
Tigers CEO Steve Gill said: “Andy has been a great servant to both Castleford Tigers and Rugby League. He epitomises the word professional! We have all enjoyed many hours watching him play the game he clearly loves, and we all wish him well for the rest of this season and for the next chapter of his career.”
Andy Lynch’s attention right now is firmly focused on ending the 2017 season in style with Castleford Tigers, but he’s already got a few plans in place for when the time comes to hang up his boots.
Lynch has joined his former team mate and current coach Danny Orr in developing the Elite Rugby Academy which will see him continue to mould young rugby league players in the making in the Castleford community, inspiring the next generation of potential Super League stars. Lynch is also looking forward to getting more involved with charity events, starting with the London Marathon.
Lynch said: “I’ve always wanted to give something back and take on a physical challenge, and in 2018 I’ll be doing just that, running the London Marathon. It’s the first time in my life that I won’t have rugby training, and I’ll therefore be able to commit my time to the training needed to take on a different type of physical challenge to Rugby League.”
Lynch will make his 500th appearance on Sunday when Castleford Tigers take on Warrington Wolves at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Andy Lynch on his decision to retire