Fullback Kevin Locke has pledged his future to the Vodafone Warriors by signing a new contract until at least the end of the 2013 NRL season.
After taking up an option on him for next year, Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager Dean Bell today confirmed the club had since negotiated a deal which would see the 22-year-old Northcote product remain in Auckland for two more years and potentially longer.
“Kevin has come right through our development system and has always been seen as a player who would have a big future here,” he said.
Locke was again at fullback in the Vodafone Warriors’ 15th-round NRL clash against the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville last night, his sixth consecutive start in the position since replacing regular Lance Hohaia for the May 8 encounter with Gold Coast.
Making his 40th first-grade appearance for the club last night, he was one of seven players in the line-up who are graduates from the club’s NYC side.
“I really want to a part of this club’s future,” he said.
“I always wanted to play for the Vodafone Warriors from the start and I’m excited knowing I’ll be here for even longer now. It’s a great club to be a part of and the people here have done a lot to develop me and to give me the opportunity to play in the NRL. I have so much to thank them for.
“It’s also great being able to play with so many of the younger players I’ve grown up with here.”
Alongside Locke last night were six other former Vodafone Junior Warriors whom Locke had as team-mates during his time in the NYC – Russell Packer, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Steve Rapira, Shaun Johnson and Glen Fisiiahi. In all, there are 15 former Vodafone Junior Warriors in the club’s NRL squad this year.
Locke played 30 NYC matches in 2008-2009, scoring 270 points from 18 tries and 99 goals, making his NRL debut against Wests Tigers in 2009 when he scored two tries in a 14-0 victory.
At the end of the season he toured with the Kiwis for the Four Nations tournament in the United Kingdom and France.
Locke’s new contract follows confirmation three weeks ago of nine players being secured for the Vodafone Warriors’ NRL squad next season or beyond, among them Queensland State of Origin prop Jacob Lillyman, who has also signed until the end of 2013. Fisiiahi plus Sione and Samiuela Lousi also signed new contracts recently, hooker Nathan Friend was recruited from Gold Coast and options were taken up on prop Sam Rapira and standoff James Maloney.
Born: April 4, 1989
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Junior Club: Northcote Tigers (Auckland)
Other Clubs: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup), Vodafone Junior Warriors (NYC), Auckland Lions (New South Wales Premier League)
NYC Debut: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Melbourne, Etihad Stadium, March 17, 2008 (Round 1)
NYC Career: 30 appearances, 2008-2009
NYC Points: 270 (18 tries, 99 goals)
NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Wests Tigers, Mount Smart Stadium, May 31, 2009 (Round 12)
NRL Career: 40 appearances, 2009-2011
NRL Points: 104 (14 tries, 24 goals)
Club Number: 152
Representative:Kiwi Four Nations squad 2009, New Zealand Maori 2008-2010, Junior Kiwis 2006