SAFE hands, composure and communication have each played an integral part in Warrington Wolves centre Ryan Atkins' on-field exploits this season.

But it is those talents which are sure to put the 30-year-old on the path to success off the field when he calls time on his career.

The Wolves star has embarked on an 18-month apprenticeship at the The Original Barbershop in Stockton Heath alongside a NVQ level two barbering qualification.

Warrington Guardian reporter Aran Dhillon went down to the London Road store for a trim to see whether he has what it takes with the clippers.

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The powerhouse has sported a series of hairstyles during his playing career, including an infamous mohawk, but said his current sharper look is the most pleasing to date.

Dec Patton is the only player from the club to take the shop hotseat so far but Atkins admits it would be a dream to get the chance to cut a certain Hollywood star's hair.

"I would like to cut Ashton Sims' hair off but that could be a while off," he joked.

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"But it would be great to cut Will Smith's if I got the chance – I am really into his films.

"Barbering is something I have always been interested in and after I am retired, which will hopefully not be for a good few years, I would like to have my own place.

"It is something I enjoy – I like the environment and the banter involved.

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"I sometimes look back at the styles I've had. For the mohawk I am not sure what I was thinking – but in sport I think it is good to stand out and get people talking."

Atkins, now one of the club's most senior players, is just days away from stepping out at Wembley Stadium against Hull FC as he hopes to make it three Challenge Cup successes after helping Wolves to two final wins against Leeds Rhinos in 2010 and 2012.

After being named last month's Super League Player of the Month he will be confident of adding to his three Challenge Cup final tries to date.

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If he does score on Saturday, he will equal Chris Hicks' record and become the club's joint-highest try scorer in the competition's finals – in a fixture his family will be gathering to watch in his hometown Leeds.

Last season saw the centre hit by injury woes but he admits his focus is now better than ever – and praised Wolves boss Tony Smith and former skipper Jon Clarke, who is the club's head of a strength and conditioning.

He said: "I am looking forward to the final – it will be a great game, they have a big physical pack and explosive players but so have we.

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"It can be lonely and frustrating when you are not playing well.

"I think having Jon Clarke back at Warrington, with his ideas, has made a big difference.

"He tailors things to each player so I am not doing the same as the big forwards. I am doing more speed and explosive stuff, which is what I need."

However, had it not been for a change of heart in his school years, he may not have donned the primrose and blue.

He said: "It was always football for me growing up and I played for Leeds City Boys.

"But in school, teachers told me to give rugby a try, so I did.

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"I always remember one time me and another player were chasing the ball, he got there first but I tackled him and he stayed down injured.

"I looked around and thought I might be in trouble but nobody said anything. After that I made up my mind and started playing rugby."

England international Atkins, who is eligible to play for Wales through his grandad, is focusing on club form but he is not shutting the door on international duty.

He has also been issuing the younger players in the squad with some advice to help prepare them to perform on the big stage.

"The first time at Wembley is daunting and I will never forget it," he said.

"But the week leading into it is amazing, driving around the town and seeing all the flags and fans walking around is brilliant."

The Wolves player and girlfriend Stevie Wright welcomed daughter Nala, three, to the world in 2013 – and will have another daughter in November.

He added: "It is amazing and I am really looking forward to it. It will be another girl, so I may need to get myself a little man cave.

"I don't think all the players realise the sacrifices you have to make, but if you really want it, it will come easy.

"Doing what I do gives the family a nice lifestyle and puts a roof over their heads."

Despite Atkins' ambitions to open up a store in Yorkshire post-retirement, The Original Barbershop owner Adey Lummis hinted he would like to form a future partnership between the pair in Warrington.

There were no slip-ups from Atkins with the clippers, thankfully for Aran – something which will hopefully remain the same at Wembley.

Atkins will also again be giving a signed ball to the resident with the best-decorated home ahead of the final, after judging with Nala.