Plenty of big names joined Salford during Marwan Koukash’s revolution at Salford. Grand Final winners like Ben Jones-Bishop and Adrian Morley arrived at the AJ Bell Stadium as he promised success. But the biggest signing of the lot was the arrival of New Zealand star Kevin Locke.
The fullback generated intrigue very early on in his career thanks to his stunning performances at junior level and for the Auckland Lions in the NSWRL Premier League. Unsurprisingly, New Zealand Warriors then snapped up the youngster who promised to be the next big Kiwi star.
After dominating the Toyota Cup, he made his NRL debut in 2009 scoring twice as he stole the show in a 14-0 win. From there, he went from strength to strength establishing himself as one of the stars in the Warriors’ team as well forcing his way into the international side.
He made his debut for the Kiwis in 2011 before featuring in the World Cup Final defeat to Australia two years later having established himself as the country’s top fullback. However, it would be one of the last times he pulled on his international jumper as 2014 saw his career take a turn for the worst.
The arrival of Sam Tomkins from Wigan saw his game time dry up at New Zealand Warriors thus he looked to jump ship which is where Koukash steps into this story.
The Salford owner tempted the World Cup Finalist to Salford despite offers from across the sport of rugby league and even interest from rugby union clubs. He arrived at Salford midway through the 2014 campaign and made an instant impact scoring a try on debut against Huddersfield as the Red Devils shocked the high-flying Giants.
Salford fans were suitably excited but it would prove to be a false dawn. By June 2015, he was at Wakefield who languished at the bottom of the league scrapping for survival. Once more, things didn’t go to plan for Locke prompting him to leave for rugby union in an ill-fated attempt to rekindle his career.
To his credit, he kept trying and eventually found himself playing in the Queensland Cup. He still plies his trade in the competition today for the Souths Logan Magpies.
It’s safe to say Locke wasn’t the blockbuster signing he was billed as. Ironically, following his departure, Salford have accomplished the very things he was brought in to deliver. Five years after he signed for the club, they made their Grand Final debut before playing in last year’s Challenge Cup Final.
Nonetheless, it’s still a shame for Locke himself. Still an exhilarating player, perhaps he may yet rekindle his career.