Born: 4 April, 1989 – Auckland
Test record: 8 Tests (2011, 2013) – 2 tries (8 points)
Tours: 2009 Four Nations, 2011 Four Nations, 2013 World Cup
Gifted Warriors fullback/winger Kevin Locke played eight Tests for New Zealand during the early-2010s – a rare talent who shone brightly but lamentably briefly.
The Northcote Tigers product and 2006 Junior Kiwi’s efforts for Auckland Lions in the 2007 NSWRL Premier League as an 18-year-old earned a Warriors contract. He scored 18 tries in 30 games during the first two NYC Under-20s competitions.
Locke made his NRL debut midway through the Warriors’ difficult 2009 campaign, scoring two tries from the wing in a 14-0 defeat of Wests Tigers. He cemented a spot on the flank and took out the club’s rookie of the year gong, before being chosen in New Zealand’s Four Nations squad – though he did not play a match.
The tyro proved himself as a match-winner with blistering speed and breath-taking instincts during 17 top-grade games in 2010. In scoring a hat-trick against the Roosters in Christchurch, he produced one of the most memorable buzzer-beaters in premiership history – a stunning, courageous kick-and-chase effort on the bell that saw him snatch a 20-18 victory while being bent around the goalpost.
After playing in the Warriors’ finals exit at the hands of the Titans, Locke featured at fullback as New Zealand Māori drew 18-all with England in Auckland.
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary moved Locke to fullback a couple of months into the 2011 season and – given more space and opportunity to weave his attacking class – he was an immediate sensation, eventually finishing 11th-equal in the Dally M Medal count. Locke formed a wonderful combination with rookie halfback Shaun Johnson and the pair were integral to the Warriors’ unlikely drive to the grand final.
The loss to Manly in the decider was tempered for Locke by a maiden Kiwis call-up. He played in all four Tests of their post-season campaign, scoring his country’s only try on debut against Australia in Newcastle and crossing again in the Four Nations win over Wales.
Injury ruled Locke out of contention for the 2012 Anzac Test and, at the end of a dismal season for the Warriors, he was unable to unseat Josh Hoffman for the No.1 jersey for the end-of-year clash with the Kangaroos.
The Warriors started 2013 horribly but Locke returned from a short injury hiatus to help inspire a memorable mid-season revival that would ultimately fall short of a Top 8 return. He went away to the World Cup in England as Hoffman’s understudy but took over the New Zealand custodian role as the tournament moved into the knockout stages, playing in the quarter-final thrashing of Scotland, the incredible semi-final eclipse of England at Wembley and the defeat to Australia in the Old Trafford final.
But at just 24 years of age, Locke’s career endured a dramatic downturn sparked by the Warriors big-money outlay for superstar Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins. Locke played just two games for the club in 2014 and was with Super League side Salford before the season was out.
Locke joined Wakefield Trinity midway through 2015 but played only a handful of games for the Wildcats before heading to Australia during 2016 and playing Shute Shield rugby union in Sydney. After failed bids to revive his NRL career, Locke later resurfaced in the Auckland Rugby League competition with Northcote.