Castleford Tigers’ evergreen prop forward Lynch has confirmed that 2016 will be his final season as a player.
The 37-year-old will go down as one of the all time great players of the Super League era and is hoping to end up with the record of the most appearances in the competition.
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.
Local lad 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 Cas, Lynch represented Yorkshire and England while also being selected in the 2003 Super League Dream Team.
Following the club’s relegation in 2004, he signed for Bradford Bulls where he spent six years and helped them win the World Club Challenge in 2006, beating Wests Tigers, 30-10.
In 2006 Lynch earned a call-up to the Great Britain and the following year he played in a Test match against France. Injuries in 2008 ruled the forward out of England’s Rugby League World Cup squad.
Lynch moved to Hull in 2011 and captained them, playing at Wembley in the Challenge Cup final, before coming back home for a successful closing chapter in his illustrious career, back at Castleford.
He signed an initial two-year deal back in 2014, but his continued good form earned him an extended contract.
Lynch was back at Wembley in the 2014 Challenge Cup final and has remained a key leader of Daryl Powell’s team.
Tomorrow Andy will make his 500th career appearance, an achievement not many players will reach in the modern game, and it is one he is proud of
He said: “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:
He said: “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 my boys play sports.”
Lynch is hoping to bow out by helping Cas win silverware this year.
He added: “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 Powell described Lynch as an ‘absolute professional’ and added: “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!
“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 chief executive 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’s attention 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.
He 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.”