In ones and twos, the boys file into the changing sheds. As the minutes tick down before kickoff, the players go through their traditions.
Go through their pre-match routines. Some might have a mantra they repeat over and over in their heads, others maybe have a favourite pair of undies or socks they find lucky.
Music is always a big thing, with rap and heavy metal regularly blasting. Whatever it takes to charge each player up.
That heavy stuff isn't for Kevin Locke. He's tried it before, and it's not for him.
Instead the Warriors fullback will put on his iPod earphones, and turn up the volume. It's been the same song over the last few weeks, since he's been back from injury. A mellow number – but one that hits the spot.
"All the gold in the world, is nothing to possess / If all the things that it can bring, can't add up to one ounce of your happiness."
Locke eases back on his bench set, and feels the words of Stevie Wonder's 1995 single For Your Love wash over him. Chill him right out. Sometimes he sings along, copping grief from his team-mates.
"I listen to it and all the boys crack up because I sing it pretty loud in the sheds," Locke told Sunday News.
"I've told people about it, and they ask, `How does that work?' It's a chilled song. People listen to heavy metal and these rap songs. I just like relaxing my mind, just feeling the groove. That's what hypes me up – by getting me relaxed." Chilled. Devoid of anything inside him that could lead to an on-field mistake. Ready for battle.
LOCKE'S season has been a frustrating one thus far, especially after his 2011 effort. Last year, Locke was mercurial from the back of the paddock for the Warriors.
Fleet-footed and creative in attack, and a reliable one-man wall on defence, it seemed like the 23-year-old Aucklander, long hyped as a lad with sublime potential, had finally found his place in the first grade.
Yet after starting the Warriors' first four games, Locke picked up a niggly quad injury that benched him for three weeks. His return, against the Storm in round nine, lasted only six minutes before a concern with his sternum forced him from the field.
Since returning against the Panthers, Locke has improved every week. His performance against the Cowboys last weekend was arguably his best before last night's Titans clash on the Gold Coast, notching up six tackle breaks and his most running metres (151) and kick return metres (117) of the season so far.
Warriors coach Brian McClennan has been impressed with how his fullback. He reckons Locke is on the verge of a very special second half to the season.
"I think he's on the verge of really igniting into some really great performances," McClennan said.
"We saw signs of it last week. He's had a lot of football off, Kevin has, and he's been able to string a couple of games together now.
"I see his threat and performances getting better and better each week, and I think he's ready to really help with this team."
A threat that the Warriors missed, halfback Shaun Johnson believes.
"It was a big loss when he was out," Johnson said.
"He brings a lot of composure and calmness at the back. He's assured under the high ball and lethal when coming into the line on attack."
His performance against the Cowboys makes the words of his coach and team-mate ring very true. Locke, a veteran of 62 NRL matches, admits, however, he has been playing through pain since his return.
"With the sternum injury, I was quite nervous coming back," he said.
"I played a Vulcans game and got one good knock. I felt all right, it was a bit of a stinger but I felt all right.
"With my quad, because there's bone that catches and grinds into my muscle, it's not a pleasant feeling. It just gives me aches here and there when I'm running.
"It will take me some time to heal. It takes quite a while to heal actually. Every time I get a good knock on it, it hurts."
Surgery is an option, Locke revealed, but his quad would have to be giving him real grief for that to happen. It may be considered in the post-season, though, he said.
"Depending on how it goes, you can operate on it and get it taken out, but we're not even going to think about that unless it comes to that time," he said.
WHEN game times arrives, the iPod earphones come off and Locke is ready to go. The other boys might be charged up to their heavy metal or hip-hop, but Locke is chilled on soul. "When it's game on – it just goes to another level," Locke said. "I've tried all that rap stuff, and it just doesn't work. It points my mind in all sorts of directions. I like to be relaxed."
As Stevie would say: "And for your love, I would do anything / Just to see your smile upon your face / For your love, I would go anywhere / Just you tell me and I'll be right there."
- © Fairfax NZ News