Locke continues to test Warriors' patience

By David Skipwith

Warriors Kevin Locke in action against the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Richard Robinson
Warriors Kevin Locke in action against the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Richard Robinson

Out of favour Warriors fullback Kevin Locke continues to test the club's patience while both parties negotiate his release.

Locke turned out for his junior club side Northcote in last weekend's Fox Memorial clash against Richmond without the Warriors knowledge or approval, putting further strain on his relationship with the NRL club.

The 25-year-old came off the Tigers' bench late in the first half and played the second half, filling in at hooker and loose-forward, before slotting into the fullback role.

Locke put in a strong performance, scoring a 90m runaway try and having a hand in two others, as the Tigers ran out 52-28 winners at Birkenhead War Memorial Park on Saturday.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden expressed frustration at Locke's decision to play local club football and confirmed that he did so without the Warriors' permission.

"No, he didn't but we're working through things at the moment. We're a little bit disappointed with that but he's made that decision," McFadden said.

Locke has signed a three-year contract with English Super League club Salford, to begin after the current NRL season finishes in October, however he is seeking an early release from the Warriors and looking to join the Red Devils immediately.

After a delayed start to the year through injury, Locke has found himself struggling for game time, with English import Sam Tomkins filling the No 1 jersey.

McFadden said the Warriors are still working through the issue with Salford and nothing has been confirmed yet.

Locke has played 89 first grade games and scored 26 tries over six seasons at the Warriors.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are preparing to take on a full-strength Brisbane Broncos side in Saturday's clash at Mt Smart Stadium.

Despite the Broncos yesterday naming an understrength line-up, McFadden expects their Queensland State of Origin stars Matt Gillett, Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday and Ben Hunt to back-up for their club side.

"Definitely, we're going to expect that. I know they've named a weaker team but they've done that in the past and they've backed up so that's certainly what we're planning for."

The Warriors have a difficult job on their hands getting past the frugal Brisbane defence, with the Broncos having conceded just 35 tries all season, the lowest in the competition.

"We've got a plan for that," said McFadden. "Obviously it's going to come down to winning the forward battle. They're a real scrappy team. They compete very hard so that's certainly an area that we're going to have to be better at."

- NZ Herald

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