Chris Atkin would be lying if he said the constant talk over Hull KR’s need for a new halfback hadn’t irked him somewhat.
The young playmaker had seemingly become a forgotten figure in the weeks building up to the season as fans and pundits harped on about the Robins’ urgent need for a new pivot among their ranks.
However, that changed last week as the 25-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance on his Super League debut, as Rovers came up desperately short against the defending champions, Leeds Rhinos.
Atkin put in an encouraging performance, so impressive that some Robins fans have called on the club to ditch their halfback search.
Tim Sheens has made no secret of his wish to sign a new playmaker, and while Atkin can understand the thinking, he’s adamant that he can tie down the position himself.
“One thing I’ve done in the last couple of years is play regular football. That’s what I’m looking to do here.
“I’ve not come here to be moved in and out of the team, I want to put performances in consistently.
“There’s myself and Matty Marsh competing for that spot. But Tim has his reason for why he wants another member for that spot, it will only add quality and depth in there. If you look at the Qualifiers last year we added myself and a few others, it wasn’t because other players weren’t performing, it was to provide that strength in depth and I think another halfback would provide that. It doesn’t mean I have to do anything special now, if I keep performing I’ll stay in the team and that’s my goal.”
Atkin only joined the club himself less than a year ago, although he was hardly heralded as a big-name signing at the time. He joined the Robins from Swinton, the Championship minnows who were forced to part with their prized asset as financial troubles started to take their toll.
An inevitable bedding in period followed as Atkin adapted to full-time surroundings, a transition he admitted took a while to adjust to.
“I was probably cruising a little bit thinking being full-time was just enough,” he conceded.
“It’s not the fact I’m resting on that, it’s the training you’re doing every day. I think I was thinking doing those extra 10 minutes after training was enough, but it’s not, it’s going away, spending that time in video or in the gym. I’m not the finished article and I can keep improving.
“I am quite a pro-active person and I’ve changed my mindset a bit. I’m more forward thinking and back to my usual self.”