Late this week, Kevin Locke was being discussed by two senior members of the Warriors' coaching staff.

It wasn't a conversation about bringing him back to Penrose, more reminiscing about some of his famous deeds at Mt Smart.

The memory jog in the corridor was prompted by news Locke had severed his deal with Salford after linking with the Red Devils in a blaze of publicity in May last year.

Out of sight and out of mind in the Northern Hemisphere, it's easy to forget just how good Locke could be, a freakish talent.


"Cappy [Andrew McFadden] and I were talking about him the other day," said Warriors assistant coach Tony Iro. "We both remembered an amazing try he scored in the under-20s in Canberra - one of the best we've seen."

Iro describes Locke picking the ball up behind his own tryline, chipping over the on-rushing defence, then regathering and running the length of the field to score. That's the thing about him - everybody can recall a special Kevin Locke moment.

There was the match-winning try in Christchurch in 2010, when he was almost cut in two as he smashed into the goalposts. There was the brilliant hands and acceleration as he ran off Feleti Mateo to score in the 2011 semifinal against the Tigers.

There were several magic moments against Melbourne - he seemed to thrive at AAMI park - where he worked wonders with Shaun Johnson. There was his leap against the Storm at Mt Smart late in the 2013 season, soaring like an AFL player high above the pack to take a bomb and score the match-sealing try.

So many moments but, like Minties, they didn't last.

"Kevin has always had plenty of talent and is naturally fit," said Iro, who worked with Locke for most of his Warriors career. "But that has also been his biggest downfall. The sky was always the limit if he could knuckle down. But he hasn't really applied himself like he could have. He has trained hard - I've seen it - but perhaps didn't realise that this is a 24-hour job. If you don't fully commit, you don't last."

Iro discovered Locke after a reference from current Warriors manager Laurie Hale, who told him "he had to see this kid at Northcote". Soon afterwards, Locke was in the Warriors system. He starred at under-20 level and was a revelation when Ivan Cleary switched him to fullback in 2011.

"He was a really talented footballer, unbelievable skills and could do pretty much anything in the game," remembers Warriors skipper Simon Mannering. "But, unfortunately, we probably didn't see enough of him at the club. Some of the stuff he did was unreal."

Off the field, things were rarely straightforward. He had a tough childhood, moving out of home at 15 after his parents' divorce, then losing his father to motor neuron disease in 2008.

In other areas, he was more the author of his own misfortune, with numerous driving offences, allegations of other misadventures and relationship problems which kept him in the news for the wrong reasons.

"Drama seemed to follow Kevin but he was the architect of a lot of it," says one club insider. "He could be a great kid, and was brilliant with community work. But with all the distractions, he has never allowed himself to realise his true potential."

He was also unfortunate, as his Warriors exit (due to Sam Tomkins' arrival) coincided with an abundance of quality young fullbacks hitting the scene (Matt Moylan, James Tedesco et al), meaning there weren't too many vacant No 1 jerseys in the NRL.

He's only 26 but already there is a sense of what might have been with Kevin Samuel Locke.

He may yet resurrect his career in the NRL but last week's signing for Wakefield Trinity, after a messy exit from Salford, wasn't one to get the pulses racing.

Sure, at least he has a club, but ending up playing for a relegation-threatened outfit during your prime doesn't seem quite right.

The Wildcats haven't won a major trophy since the late 1960s and have spent most of the past decade battling for survival in the UK Super League.

An NRL return in 2016 seems imperative otherwise, like other Kiwi expatriates, he might be stuck in England for the rest of his playing career.