RYAN ATKINS feels like he has “never been away” from Wakefield Trinity after making his return to the club last Friday.
The explosive centre has re-signed for Trinity on a deal until the end of the 2020 campaign.
The 33-year-old joined Wakefield in 2006 before leaving for Warrington Wolves four years later. He spent 10 years in the primrose and blue, where he twice won the League Leaders’ Shield and the Challenge Cup.
Atkins made close to 100 appearances for Trinity scoring 49 tries. He continued that remarkable return for the Wire, crossing 165 times in 272 games.
“It is like I have never been away to be honest. It’s great to be back,” said Atkins.
“It has been a tough couple of days, they definitely put me through my paces but I am feeling good for it.
“I have met all the boys and I am looking forward to getting the nod to get into full training and to get stuck in with the lads.”
Atkins has been sidelined with a wrist problem for the past number of weeks but is hoping to make his second debut for Wakefield when they host Wigan Warriors on September 1.
“I had wrist surgery five weeks ago and it went really well. My strength is down on my grip and my squeeze which is expected,” he said.
“But I am ahead of where they expected me to be.
“So, I need to get some fitness back in the old legs, some muscle mass back and strength in my wrists.
“But it will be good to be able to put my hand up for whenever Chezzy [Chris Chester] needs me.
“In my head the aim is the Wigan game. The good thing is we have the Challenge Cup final, we will get a rest there which prolongs it.
“We have got Hull KR, the rest week and then the Wigan game.
“In the space of three weeks a lot can be done, and I am very hopeful. I said it to the specialist and he said it is achievable.
“As long as I get my head down and work hard, probably on the days off that we may or may not get over the Challenge Cup final, I will get myself in and keep striving to get fit.”
It has been almost a decade since Atkins’s last appearance for Wakefield. And the Leeds-born centre is hoping to bring all his experience from Warrington to help the younger players who are finding their feet in the senior squad.
Atkins added: “The player I am now and the person I am now has changed so much from when I first left Wakefield.
“I would like to consider myself as more of a leader on and off the field now.
“And that is what I can bring to Wakefield, rather than being one of the young lads like I was 10 years ago. We have got some young backs here, even though we have got some great players and internationals in the back line, I think I have got that little bit of knowledge and experience to help them.”
The former Warrington centre feels that Wakefield have come a long way since his first spell with the club.
Trinity avoided relegation in the Million Pound Game against Castleford Tigers in Atkins’ first year at Wakefield in 2006.
And although they have been dragged into another relegation scrap this term, they have finished in fifth spot for the last two seasons.
“I was involved in the original Million Pound Game in 2006, and Wakefield has never been one of the glamour clubs as such,” said Atkins.
“They have got the togetherness and unity that the club has always had but now they have got the superstars to go with it.
“So, with the togetherness now plus the skill-set of the extra flair players, once everyone is firing it is going to be unstoppable. It is just injuries that prevent that.
“I am excited to get involved with it. And once we get those one or two wins to make sure we survive, it is about building and being ready for next year.”
Wakefield travel to Hull KR for a relegation four-pointer on Sunday afternoon.