Chris Atkin knows better than anyone the injury woes Hull KR are currently battling, but the utility back is confident ahead of his Magic Weekend debut at St James’ Park.
Atkin, 25, has featured in Blackpool’s Summer Bash with Championship side Swinton Lions, but will make his Magic Weekend debut this Sunday as his side face cross-city rivals Hull FC.
He made 100 appearances for the Lions, racking up over 700 points and has featured in all of Hull KR’s games so far, since missing the first game of the season against Wakefield.
Hull KR will face FC at Newcastle for the first time since 2016, and Atkin admits he’s a big fan of the concept.
“I’m really excited,” he said.
“I think the idea behind bringing all the Super League sides together for one weekend is something very unique and definitely an idea that should remain in the sport for the future.
“We have trained really well this week, taking a lot from the game against Wigan at the weekend, but also identifying key areas to improve on ready for Sunday.”
“Until Monday for the media I had only been up to Newcastle once before to play for Swinton against Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park. But it’s exciting taking the top flight of rugby league back to a football-based city to help grow the sport and give the supporters and players a new experience of playing in a new city and stadium.”
Tim Sheens’ side were without 10 first-team players in last week’s cup loss to Wigan, including skipper Danny McGuire, and are continuing to struggle with injuries within the squad.
“I think we’ve been really unlucky this year with injuries, and it is always going to be a tough game; it’s a derby and a big occasion up at Magic Weekend,” said Atkin.
“But yes, every side is probably struggling with injuries at the minute. We are hoping for a few lads back this week that missed out at the weekend, but we have a strong enough squad that no matter what 17 go out there we will put 100% in to the game and hopefully get the win.”
Atkin featured in his first Hull derby earlier this season, where his side fell short 22-30 against Lee Radford’s team, who ended the game with just twelve-men following a red card for winger Bureta Faraimo.
The derby is set to conclude the action-packed weekend, being the last game of the Sunday.
“It was my first taste of a hull derby earlier on in the season, and something I will remember for the rest of my life,” said the half-back.
“There was a huge atmosphere around the city in the week building up to the game and I’m sure it will be the same this time around. This will no doubt be the biggest crowed myself and some of the other players will have played in front of so we are really excited to play at the magic weekend, but it’s really special that it’s also another derby game.”
The Widnes academy product, who featured in the 2013 Student Rugby League World Cup whilst studying at Liverpool John Moores University, has impressed in his debut Super League season having been selected by Paul Anderson for England Knights’ 25-man training squad.
The player has also revealed to being a football fan, and the idea of playing at Newcastle’s St James’ Park is a thrilling thought.
“I’m a big Liverpool fan and I can’t wait for Sunday.
“I’ve watched lots of games over the years played up at St. James’ Park and it’s an amazing ground. It was great to go up on Monday ahead of the weekend and walk around the pitch, and you can see why it’s one of the most famous grounds in the country.”