Locke's comeback on the right track
Former New Zealand Warrior Kevin Locke is on the right track to return to the NRL in the near future after making an immediate impression in the Intrust Super Cup for the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Locke is fast becoming a leader at the club he signed with late in 2016, with the Falcons reaping the benefits of having the star fullback in their squad.
The 27-year-old last appeared in the NRL in 2014, falling out of favour with the Warriors before being moved to the NSW Cup.
With his NRL career looking all but over, Locke before moved to England to play for the Salford Red Devils and the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
But England was not the place for Locke who was plagued by a number of off-field incidents that resulted in him being released from the Wildcats.
Now back in Australia, Locke's dream to return to the NRL is still alive.
The New Zealand international secured himself a train-and-trial contract with the Manly Sea Eagles in November of 2016 before moving to the Sunshine Coast to play for the Falcons.
Sunshine Coast hooker Alex Bishop told NRL.com that Locke's class is already rubbing off on the playing group.
"He's a class player. You don't play at the level he has for that many years if you aren't of top quality," Bishop said.
"He's been really good for the club. He's become a big part of the team and really understands the club's culture.
"Kevin is mixing with all the boys really well and he'll be one of our best this year. He's played for his country numerous times so that experience is invaluable."
The Falcons fell just short of a grand final appearance in 2016, losing to the Redcliffe Dolphins in the preliminary final.
It's hoped the inclusion of Locke will help their side take that extra step in 2017, and they did their premiership credentials no harm in Round 1.
A 7-all draw against the highly fancied Easts Tigers has given Bishop hope, but he knows the talent some of the other teams have at their disposal.
Bishop said Locke could be the difference-maker against quality teams such as Redcliffe and Townsville.
"We had quite a young side last year so Kevin can only benefit us. All the younger boys are learning off him," he said.
"He gives great advice and is helping all the lads out wherever he can.
"Redcliffe are always strong. They have a great breeding ground down there.
"Townsville of course will be hard to beat. The thing about this competition is that it's just so even.
"You have to be on your game every week because anyone can beat you."