YORK City Knights star Ryan Atkins will bring to an end his hugely successful rugby league career after announcing that he will retire at the end of the season.

Atkins signed for York ahead of the 2021 season and has been one of the most impressive players for the Knights this year in the Betfred Championship, scoring eight tries in 18 appearances.

Prior to his move, the 35-year-old had spent his entire career playing in the Betfred Super League, where he currently stands of the sixth-highest try scorer in the competition’s history.

Atkins began his career at Bradford Bulls and would make his Super League debut for Wakefield Trinity in 2006 before signing permanently at the West Yorkshire club.

In the same year as signing for Trinity, Atkins made his England debut and he would go on to earn eight international caps, scoring four tries.

Atkins was awarded with a testimonial in 2019 after a decade with the Wire before returning to Wakefield ahead of a move to the Knights.

Featuring against former club Bradford last month, the Leeds-born star reached 400 appearances for his career to further highlight his longevity in the sport.

Now in his mid-30s and having already made the transition into part-time rugby league this year, Atkins explained his decision to hang up his boots later this month.

“I was contemplating going around again but the time is right,” he explained.

“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 got 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 from rugby league and into the real world.

“I’ve been doing that gradually now for the last twelve 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.”

Reflecting on the highs of his career, Atkins recalled scoring at Wembley in the 2010 Challenge Cup win.

“I always say that my favourite try from my career is my first one at Wembley against Leeds Rhinos and I absolutely loved that,” he said.

“Getting back to Warrington and having the open top bus around the town, that was amazing.

“I was lucky enough to tour Australia and New Zealand with England at the end of that year.

“That was a phenomenal experience and I loved that whole period of my career.”

While Atkins had just one season with York, the experience has left a lasting impression on the veteran.

“Some might think that, because it’s second-tier, that it’s not as good as Super League but it’s just as good, if not tougher,” he said.

“The skill and physicality is there because everyone wants to get promoted.

“While teams are recruiting more high-profile players, it’s the young, hungry lads that are making it tougher.”

The 2021 season has been a difficult one for York, who have been unable to meet their pre-season expectation of a play-offs finish.

Despite that, Atkins has no regrets about making the move to the Knights.

He said: “I’ve loved every minute of it and, even though it hasn’t gone to plan, if I could rewind the clock and sign for a different club, I wouldn’t.

“I would still sign for York and, even without reaching the play-offs, getting Covid-19 and missing Wembley, I’d still go on this journey.

“Playing for and being coached by James Ford has been brilliant, he’s up there with the best coaches I have been around.

“He and Jon Flatman have been brilliant to me and I’m confident that, under the two of them, the Knights have got a big future.

“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.”