Kevin Locke makes rugby switch

Kevin Locke. Photo / Getty
Kevin Locke. Photo / Getty

Rugby league star Kevin Locke is making the switch to rugby union.

The former Warrior and Kiwis player has signed to play for the Greater Sydney Rams in Australia's National Rugby Championship (NRC), which is the Australian equivalent of New Zealand's NPC.

In the build-up to his debut with the Rams, Locke will play the remainder of New South Wales' premier grade rugby union competition the Shute Shield with Southern Districts.

Locke is currently recovering from a shoulder reconstruction, and Southern Districts coach Matt Barr told Rugby News he was "hopeful" Locke would be fully fit for the Shute Shield finals next month, before making his NRC debut for the Rams in late August.

Former Crusaders coach Daryl Gibson is currently coaching the New South Wales Waratahs, and there's speculation that Locke could join his team in the future.

Locke played 88 games for the Warriors up until 2014, scoring 26 tries.

He represented New Zealand eight times, before spending two seasons in the UK Super League.

The highs and lows of Kevin Locke's career

1) It's 2008, and the Northcote lad is signed by the Warriors and quickly becomes a star in the juniors.

2) A season later, he makes his first grade debut in Round 12 and scores two excellent tries against Wests Tigers to ensure a much needed victory. Reporters spy Locke in the changing rooms talking to club owner Eric Watson, while football director John Hart drapes an arm around the new star. Stuff reports Hart telling Locke: "This will be the easiest game you ever play." Wise words. Locke says: "I don't want to get a big head (otherwise) you're going to blow it." More wise words.

3) Moving forward...it's 2010 and Locke gets dropped mid-season with Herald columnist Richie Barnett observing that he is lacking energy. Locke bounces back, literally. He scores his first hat trick against the Roosters in Christchurch, pinging off an upright while scoring the winner.

4) He is suspended from driving for three months - Locke is embarking on a rocky road when it comes to motor vehicles. Speeding and driving while disqualified are the problems.

5) On to 2011 - a big year. Locke plays fullback in the grand final, lost to the Manly Sea Eagles before a massive 80,000-plus crowd. And he gets his first Kiwi jumper, scooting from dummy half for a try in an ugly defeat to the Kangaroos in Newcastle. Reports rate Locke one of the best in a terrible Kiwi display.

6) More trouble with cars in 2012. He ends up in court for driving while disqualified, twice. On one occasion, Locke told police he didn't know he was disqualified. The club is getting restless, with his lawyer telling a judge: "Mr Locke is very aware he is skating on very thin ice." Locke loses a bid for permanent name suppression.

7) Things get decidedly dodgy for Locke at the Warriors in late 2013. England and Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins is signed late that year for huge wages and release fee and with a lot of fuss. This is no way to make your current fullback feel overly welcome, and there were footnotes in the Tomkins stories about Locke being expected to leave.

8) But he stays, although not for long. Locke gives the Warriors a serve, saying they had caused him to fall out of love with the game by playing him out of position. To be fair, he has a point. But he's hardly helped his own case. He signs for English Super League club Salford, turning down a couple of Scottish rugby offers apparently. There is tentative contact with the Scotland Rugby Union who are reportedly keen enough to ask for evidence of his ancestral links. This proposed union comes to nothing.

9) Salford's owner Marwan Koukash quickly falls out of love with Locke, inferring the player did little for the club's "chemistry". There's some minor hoo-hah about an internet clip of Locke dancing topless - golly gosh - at a parade in Spain. Hardly career threatening, on the face of it. Oh yes. There was a pay dispute, which Locke lost.

10) More trouble with cars. On to hopeless Wakefield Trinity on a short term deal that nose-dived after an incident involving two team mates, you guessed it a motor vehicle and an internal club investigation. An AAP report says the coach's car was crashed on an "alcohol-fuelled joyride". Locke was not the driver. One of the team mates ends up in court.

- NZ Herald

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