League: Kevin Locke return key to Northcote win

Former Kiwis fullback Kevin Locke donned a Northcote jersey for the first time in eight years to help his side in its bid to avoid relegation. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Former Kiwis fullback Kevin Locke donned a Northcote jersey for the first time in eight years to help his side in its bid to avoid relegation. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Last month he was targeting an All Blacks jersey but Kevin Locke has now returned to the club where it all began.

The former Warriors fullback yesterday made his first appearance for Northcote since linking with his old side, helping the Tigers to a 14-12 win over Otahuhu at Bert Henham Park in Mt Wellington.

Locke began his life in rugby league as a junior at Northcote before in 2008 being signed by the Warriors to kickstart a six-season stint in which he made 88 appearances in the NRL.

After Sam Tomkins moved to Mt Stadium Stadium for the 2014 season, though, Locke's preferred position of fullback had been filled and he opted to head offshore.

He signed a three-year contract with Super League club Salford, having rejected overtures from a pair of Scottish union sides, but played only 13 times for the Red Devils after falling out with club ownership over off-field issues and a pay dispute.

The former Kiwi then experienced a brief spell with Wakefield before returning to New Zealand and setting his sights on the next chapter in his career.

In June, the 27-year-old signed with the Greater Sydney Rams in Australia's National Rugby Championship, aiming to eventually work his way into Super Rugby and the All Blacks, but the move to rugby never transpired.

Locke had signed with the Point Chevalier Pirates earlier in the season but, without playing a match, was able to switch to Northcote, despite the transfer deadline having already elapsed. Although he had grand dreams when contemplating a change in codes, Locke's more immediate focus was now to help the Tigers avoid relegation.

Yesterday's narrow victory over Otahuhu should be enough to ensure their safety, while likely condemning the Leopards to the drop with two rounds remaining in the Fox Memorial competition.

- Herald on Sunday

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