‘Time is right’ for me to retire, says former Bradford Bulls, Wakefield Trinity and England centre

YORK City Knights’ former England international Ryan Atkins says the “time is right” for him to retire.

Former Wakefield centre Ryan Atkins will retire at the end of the season. Picture: James Hardisty

The ex-Wakefield Trinity and Warrington Wolves centre, 35, will close his decorated career at the end of this season. He recently made his 400th appearance against Bradford Bulls, ironically his first professional club.

Leeds-born Atkins has scored eight tries in 18 games for Championship club York this term since joining from Wakefield.

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“I was contemplating going around again but the time is right,” said the player, who twice won the Challenge Cup with Wolves, is Super League’s sixth highest try scorer with 186 and earned eight England caps.

“I thought at the end of last year that this could be my swansong, having a really good dig at getting to the play-offs and getting promoted this year with York but that’s just not happened. The further we have gotten through the year, the more batterings my body has taken and I just think the time is right now.

“It’s now time for me to transition away and into the real world. I’ve been doing that gradually now for the last 12 months in a recruitment role and I’m absolutely loving it but, for rugby, my body just won’t do what my mind and my brain wants it to do.

“I always said that, when it came to that point, that I would call it a day and thankfully I’ve got to make that decision off my own back; it’s not an injury or a lack of options, it’s down to my wife, my children and I having come to the agreement that it’s time to spend more time as a family.”

Atkins, whose final apperance could be at home to London Broncos on Sunday week, added: “It’s been great being a part of this club and, for me, it’s been a great way to come to the end of my career.”

Atkins came through Bradford’s academy system but never played a first-team game for them.

Instead, made his senior debut during a loan spell at Wakefield in 2006.

That move became permanent and he went on to score 49 tries in 98 games for Trinity where Kiwi second-row David Solomona proved a big influence.

“When I moved there on loan at first, Monty Betham and David Solomona really took me under their wings,” explained Atkins.

“I was lucky enough to play outside Dave at Wakefield and then we played together at Warrington as well.

“He is, without doubt, one of the most influential people in my career and I reckon that, if I didn’t play outside him early on in my career, I wouldn’t have had as many opportunities and progressed as quickly as I did.

“Dave taught me a lot on the field as well as off it in regard to being a family man and getting the balance right in my life. He has a great family and always made sure he had time to spend with them.”

Atkins moved to Warrington where he was even more prolific, scoring 168 tries in 273 appearances including three Grand Finals, although - unlike at Wembley - all were sadly lost.

He returned to Wakefield in 2019 before moving to York last year.