Warriors' Kevin Locke still has NRL ambitions
He might have one foot on the plane to Manchester but Kevin Locke says he has unfinished business with the Warriors and the NRL.
Locke, who has signed a lucrative contract with the Salford Devils in the English Super League from next season, said this week he hoped to be able to return to the NRL after completing his three-year Brit contract.
The 25-year-old will have spent three years in what, to New Zealand and Australian league fans, is the league wilderness but he hopes that won't affect the rest of his playing career.
"Whatever does happen, I will certainly be very keen to come back to the NRL, whether it's for the Warriors or for someone else . . . Maybe I can play against [the Warriors] and hopefully get a win against them," he said.
Locke was effectively pushed out of the Warriors when Sam Tomkins was signed from Wigan.
Locke has in the past spoken of his confusion at the decision, but he is well-regarded by new head coach Andrew McFadden, so his last few months with the Warriors needn't be bitter.
McFadden seems ready to play Locke wherever he can to make the most of his talents, and that includes working with Tomkins.
Locke joked at training this week that he had told Tomkins to set him up for a try because he couldn't finish the season without one. He also set aside any consideration of tension between the two.
"He's an awesome bloke and he's a class player, so hopefully we can link up in the game."
Locke faces a big challenge in moving away from his home and the club that gave him his start in league, and said he was already worrying about being homesick.
"If I have to do a talk at the end of the year you will see a few tears dribbling down my face. I can't really think about how much I am going to miss these guys. I'll get homesick from missing these guys. I have been with them for eight years now . . . we are all one big family, so I certainly will miss them."
Locke, who has represented New Zealand eight times and has made close to 90 appearances for the Warriors, said he had approaches from other NRL clubs but he could not ignore the offer from Salford.
"It's a massive step for me, going over there to play for them but financially it's a very, very good opportunity."
The offer from Salford owner Marwan Koukash came after an offer from Penrith at the end of last year which wasn't signed off in time - something which the young player said he regretted.
"I tried to work towards going there to play this year but I had to stay [at the Warriors] one more year. Those bids went out the window."
For Locke it is a matter of trying to sort out his new life in Manchester, including buying an apartment or house, as he tries to finish in style with the Warriors.
"I want to finish strong. I have still got a few more games left in the season. I have got new challenges and a new future for me next year, but that doesn't start for me until next year," Locke said.