Locke keen to combine with Tomkins
The arrival of Sam Tomkins in Auckland has effectively forced Kevin Locke out of the only NRL club he has ever played for, but any bad blood that exists between the pair certainly isn't being shown publicly.
At season's end Locke will head off to the Salford City Reds on a three-year contract, stating a desire to play the fullback position as the reasoning behind the big move.
That will never happen while Tomkins is fit and available for the Warriors, a fact which has become clear over the opening 10 rounds of the competition. But Locke will start alongside Tomkins on Saturday after being named on the wing against the Titans.
"He (Tomkins) is an awesome bloke, a class player and hopefully we can link up in the game," Locke said.
"We spoke at training, I said, 'Mate, you need to put me over the try-line, I don't want to be on a nudie run at the end of the year – we can't do that'."
After a spending the first month of the season recovering from a knee injury, Locke has played the last two matches off the bench for the Warriors.
Filling in at hooker, the role was foreign to a fullback who was once compared to Billy Slater.
This week against the Titans Locke gets his first start on the year, returning to the wing position where he debuted back in 2009.
Coach Andrew McFadden said mid-week that Locke still had a big role to play in his final months at the club, and hoped he would flourish on the flank.
"I want him to be in the game. Obviously he plays a different style of wing, but the more times he can be involved in and around the ball the better," McFadden said.
"That is going to be the challenge this week on the wing. Usually at fullback you are built into play, but I am sure he will add something this week for us."
Most Warriors fans telegraphed Locke's departure from the day Tomkins put pen to paper at the club; having two international fullbacks on your books in the salary cap era simply isn't economical.
Given the quality he has displayed in six seasons of first grade, where he has scored 26 tries in 87 appearances, it came as a surprise to hear Locke was heading to the Super League competition
"It is not that I couldn't have worked hard to push Sammy (Tomkins) somewhere else, it was just a case of getting to play fullback, a position I love playing, so that is the reason why," he said.
"I want to finish strong, I have still got a few more games left in the season. I have new challenges and a new future for me next year, but that doesn't start until next year."
The move away from New Zealand affects much more than just footy; Locke has a one-year-old son, Louie, who will remain in New Zealand with his mother.
"I have a little kid now, his mother and I aren't together so it will definitely be tough leaving the little fella over here."