Cronulla Sharks utility Daniel Atkinson has revealed his first start at NRL level "felt like a debut" after the club smacked the Canberra Raiders 40 points to 0 in the Nation's capital.

Atkinson was named to play in the halves for Cronulla's Round 8 clash against the Canberra Raiders following the standing down of Braydon Trindall over an off-field matter.

The ex-Melbourne Storm squad member was named for the starting role in a halves combination alongside Nicho Hynes ahead of Kade Dykes, and will now aim to keep the spot in the coming weeks.

Atkinson had a strong performance in the clash, spending plenty of time running the ball where he wound up with 121 metres and a pair of tackle busts, while he also kicked for more than 100 metres.

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The utility has previously played a single game off the bench for the Sharks this year, also coming against the Raiders in Round 4, while he has been the 18th man on two occasions.

That followed only a single appearance in 2023, where he played the final minutes of a match as the 18th man. Prior to that, Atkinson made his debut with the Melbourne Storm back in 2021, but only managed a single game with the club prior to his contract not being extended in 2022.

Atkinson spent 2022 in the QLD Cup, but is now relishing his time at the Sharks, and while he told he doesn't care where he plays, he wants to continue working on his craft in the number six jumper - the position he played growing up.

“My Dad and my brother and his wife actually came down from Queensland, so it did feel a bit like a debut," he said after the game.

“I grew up playing six in Brisbane so it felt good to get a solid hit-out in the five-eighth spot."

A six-time Italian representative, the 23-year-old can play almost anywhere on the park, but has lined up at fullback, centre, both halves positions and spent time in the forwards off the bench at various points through reserve grade.

His versatility is what originally attracted the Sharks to him, plucking him out of the Sunshine Coast Falcons at the end of 2022, and Atkinson admitted he would play anywhere.

"I'm just keen for more game time, I'll go into lock, fullback, wherever the team needs me but I'm pretty keen to keep building in the halves," he said.

It's a view he re-iterated to Zero Tackle some weeks ago, telling us he simply wanted to be on the footy field.

"It's unreal. You never know when your chance is going to pop up, so when it pops up, you've got to take it with both hands," Atkinson said.

"My position is just on the footy field.

"The goal for me moving forward is just to play good, consistent footy wherever that is.

"Whether at Newtown or whether Fitzy trusts me in the first-grade squad, no matter what jersey I put on, I'm always going to put my best foot forward.

"You tell me to do something, and I'll do it."

Atkinson will likely retain the number six jersey for Cronulla's local derby clash this weekend against the St George Illawarra Dragons.

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It's unclear at this stage when Braydon Trindall will return, however, the Sharks face an exceptionally difficult run following the clash with the Red V, taking on the Melbourne Storm (away), Sydney Roosters (in Brisbane), Penrith Panthers (home), Parramatta Eels (away) and Brisbane Broncos (away) in consecutive weeks, potentially giving Atkinson the chance to make a play for the number six jersey long-term.