Chris Atkin has gone through it all in Rugby League; from League 1 to the Championship and then Super League, the playmaker has worked his way up through the ranks.
But the sport hasn’t always been his main career choice.
In fact, before he hit the big time, the 27-year-old combined playing with teaching; with full-time roles offered to him as both a Physical Education mentor at the Wade Deacon High School in his hometown of Widnes and a Rugby League player. It ended up being a choice between the two occupations.
“It was a really difficult decision to move into Rugby League full-time,” Atkin revealed.
“I was playing at Swinton whilst finishing University and then my teaching qualification.
“I was really enjoying teaching and was offered an opportunity to take a full-time teaching role, or go full-time with my rugby.
“I had worked hard to make sure I could do both, but to be given an opportunity to go full-time was something I dreamt about.
“I didn’t know if I would ever get another opportunity to compete at the highest level, so it was something I couldn’t turn down.”
Atkin’s Rugby League career began at Swinton in League 1, before Hull KR came calling in the Championship. Earning promotion with the Robins, he joined Salford ahead of the 2020 season after 68 games for the Robins, a progression that Atkin is proud of.
“I am really grateful for the path that I have come on, I got to learn the game as I developed, moving up through the leagues.
“There is a lot more talent in those leagues with players like me that may have fallen away because they weren’t seen as good enough at the time, or they were trying to juggle other commitments.”
That move to the AJ Bell Stadium saw him reunite with former boss Ian Watson.
“I’m really enjoying being at Salford and working with Watto (Ian Watson) again; he was the one who brought me in to Swinton six years ago, and he has always had a belief in me.
“It took a while to settle in, but after lockdown I feel that my performances have started to get to a level that Watto expects, and that I know I am capable of.
“He has really high standards and definitely knows how to get the best out of his players.”
Taking into consideration the shortness of sporting careers, Atkin is determined to use his experience to help the kids of the future once his time on the field has ended.
“I have always wanted to do that as a job, and hopefully I will be fortunate enough to play a few more years before I have to go back into teaching.
“I am really passionate about passing on my experiences to younger generations, whether that be teaching or coaching.
“Hopefully once things get back to normal I will be able to get back into schools and community clubs, working with the community department at Salford.”
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