AS Ryan Atkins peers across the pitch from the North Stand at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, he has no difficulty regaling his greatest moment with Warrington Wolves.

It is also clear, as he enters his 10th Wire season and Testimonial campaign, that he remains optimistic that his best achievement is still to come.

> VIDEO/REPORT: Atkins begins bid to regain centre spot

That is quite something for a man who has represented his country, won each of the Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield twice, along with achieving a host of individual accolades that include being the most prolific try-scoring centre in the club’s history.

“My greatest moment in a Wire shirt? That’s easy, my first try at Wembley” said the 33-year-old, who has revelled in proving doubters wrong along his rugby league journey.

> READ: Strong Wire squad named for Atkins’ Testimonial game

“We were playing against my hometown team Leeds, the team that told me I wasn’t big enough to play when I was younger.

“Growing up, I watched Leeds. I’m a Leeds lad, all my friends and family are Leeds Rhinos fans.

“So, on my first outing at Wembley in 2010 and to score my first try there, the first try of the game in front of the Leeds Rhinos fans, I just loved putting the ball down, standing with my arms out and soaking in all the boos.

“That moment will live with me forever.”

> WITH PICTURES: Sports editor Mike Parsons reflects on Atkins’ huge contribution to The Wire

Not being handed a Super League opportunity at Bradford Bulls prompted his move to Wakefield Trinity, from whom he joined The Wire in late 2009.

That period brought another of his favourite moments in the sport.

“I came to The Halliwell Jones Stadium as a Wakefield player and there were rumours about me signing for Warrington” he said.

“It was the week before Warrington were going to the Challenge Cup Final.

“We’d scored a try and were lining up. I was stood on the touchline of the South Stand and everybody was singing ‘Atkins is a Wire’.

“I think I let it go for the first one but on the second try I gave a little thumbs up behind my back and everybody gave a big cheer. I knew from that point I’d made the right decision to come to Warrington.”

It is while reflecting on his first nine seasons in primrose and blue that the ‘grating’ on his mind becomes evident.

His bucket list has not been completed.

“When I first signed at the club on a three-year deal, I never expected to be at such a great club for so long,” said Atkins, a past winner of the Wire’s player and players’ player-of-the-year awards.

“It’s such a privilege to play at such a great club for so many years. To do 10 years in rugby league in general is quite a good feat nowadays, but I would never have dreamt it to do it at one club such as Warrington.

“I still pinch myself.

“I know last year’s Grand Final is in the past now, but hopefully I can get one won before I hang the boots up.”

And there it is, what could have been the elephant in the room, or corporate hospitality box number five as it was for this chat - last year’s Grand Final defeat, a fourth in seven years and the third against arch-rivals Wigan.

Atkins suffered the pain of not being selected in the 17 last October and shared in the fans’ heartbreak as The Wire again missed out on a title they have not won since 1955.

“When I was told I wasn’t playing, frustration was in my head – thinking they’re going to win and the one I don’t play in they’re going to win,” he said.

“So I was gutted, but I took a deep breath and realised I’d played my part in the 2018 season anyway.

“It’s not all down to that 80 minutes in the final, it’s what’s gone on before that to get us to the final.

“Once I realised that I put myself in peace of mind. That’s why you need a good squad in team sport.

“I think I was more gutted not playing and watching them lose from the dugout than I have in the past when I’ve played.

“I was part of the team, but I was also a fan that day.

“When the final hooter went and I knew the pain and anguish the players were going through, I could also feel the pain and anguish the fans go through at the same time so it was like a double whammy on me.

“It was a tough one but at the same time the majority of that squad is still here and people say you need to lose one to win one. We’ve lost more than one now.

“Being so close yet so far it is tough.

“We have goal-setting meetings, we sit down and chuck out our goals, but until you’ve been there, been in the heat of battle and lost one, I don’t think you really appreciate the pain and everything that goes with it afterwards.

“Once you go away from the game and you see your family and partners dejected and deflated, and then you have your down time away and the pre-season starts again with the boys, that’s when the hunger kicks in again.

“So, doing all the hard work in pre-season, when it gets tough in pre-season you start thinking back to the final.

“And I think if I further push myself by the finest little bit it might give me the extra bit again in the finals. It might be the extra one percenter that gives us the edge in the final.

“And I know that a lot of the other lads can now think like that because they’ve been there and felt it. I do think it will give us an edge.

“I’ve thought it in previous seasons as well, but knowing the squad that’s here now and the way they conduct themselves and the way everything is expected of each other - we all expect it as a group now - it’s just going to take us to the next step.

“I’ll be shocked if minimum we don’t get to the final again this year and I happily say that.

“It’s probably not something that the coaching staff or club want me to say – that we’ll get to the final – but I’m confident enough to say that.

“There’ll be another 11 teams saying the same thing, but I really do believe it.”

* Tickets are on sale for Ryan Atkins' Testimonial game against Widnes Vikings on Sunday, kick-off 3pm, through the club.

Ticket office windows will open from 1pm at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday for purchases and collections, with turnstiles open at 1.45pm on the South and West stands for cash entry.

Family tickets will not be available on the day and will need buying in advance.

This game is all paper ticket and 2019 members will need to purchase one should they wish to attend.

Atkins’ testimonial brochure will be on sale during the afternoon.