THIS year has dealt some cruel hands to sportspeople from across the city and Mackenzie Atkins was no exception.
The Bathurst winger had a season of play lined up with the Penrith Panthers under 20s side following a fantastic premiership season in Group 10 premier league but coronavirus swept those plans aside.
Atkins had been hunting around for an opportunity to keep his match fitness up in any way possible, and a few weeks ago the perfect opportunity came the way of the Bathurst Panthers player.
A chance to play with the Western Rams in their Presidents Cup campaign was way too good for Atkins to pass up, and he's keen for the opening clash with Hills District Bulls at Forbes' Spooner Oval this Sunday.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I've missed playing," Atkins said.
"This year's been so up and down. I had a pre-season with the Panthers under 20s. We get to round one and they call it off the following week and then after that I didn't know what was going to happen next.
"We were sitting there in limbo and all we could do was sit there and hope for the best."
Atkins makes his start for the Rams on the wing with him and Wellington Cowboys star Brock Naden giving the Western side plenty of pace down both edges.
Atkins gets to join forces again with Bathurst Panthers teammate Jake Betts in the starting side while Jed Betts and Nathan Ward are on the bench.
The chance to link back up with former teammates and represent his region was an easy decision for Atkins to make.
"It was a couple of weeks ago with short notice when they said I'd have to play with a club team up here at Penrith, where I am at the moment, which is was going to do," Atkins said.
"But Rams asked myself and a few of the boys up here if they wanted to come back and play and I knew that was something that I wanted to do, straight away. It was an easy choice."
Atkins said with the talent on display in the Rams squad it's great to be involved in the competition.
"I've got full confidence in this team. They've all got the ability and there's a lot of promise about them," he said.
"I'm really happy to be among this group and I'm sure they'll get the job done.
"It will take me a couple of games to see where I'm at but I'm still feeling pretty good about myself. Obviously it will take a bit to get back into the swing of things but I don't think it's going to be too bad."
Kick-off is 1pm.