The Warriors announced today that rising star Kevin Locke has signed a contract at the club until the end of the 2013 season.
After turning on a number of star performances at fullback, the Warriors worked with his agent to contract Locke for an additional year.
Warriors CEO Wayne Scurrah argues that it was never in doubt that Locke would be in Auckland beyond 2011 despite rumours the Rabbitohs had been eager to snare him.
But Locke admits, after taking his footy career for granted, he realised this year there was every chance the club he loves might cut him loose.
"I didn't really think about my future too much. I thought if I played good footy then the club would keep me here," he said. "I was a bit too relaxed at the start of the year and then all of a sudden I got tense as the weeks went by.
"I knew I had to do something because I had this feeling that I might not be here for much longer. I wasn't looking elsewhere but I did have to buck my ideas up and start playing well for them to take up the option."
Off the field, 2011 has been a turbulent year for Lock, who was interviewed by police investigating a sexual assault complaint, which he strenuously denied. He asked for his name to be made public to make it clear he had done nothing wrong.
Since then, he says he's turned his full attention to the footy field.
Before last night's game with the Cowboys in Townsville, Locke had started at fullback in the Warriors last five games and had chalked up more than 130 metres on every occasion.
"I probably really needed to get my life on track and I needed to do something about it," he said.
"You're not going to be in this game for long so I knew I needed to turn my season around. It was going downhill earlier in the year and I had to do something.
"I don't really look at my stats too much. But I know they've been a lot better than before. I know I've got to keep moving forward and doing my best to stay on top."
As far as Warriors coach Ivan Cleary is concerned, Locke's resurgence can be attributed to an increasing maturity and greater awareness that talent alone is not enough to succeed.
"He came on the scene with a bang a couple of years ago and it may not have been as good as it all seemed," Cleary said.
"He had to go through the hangover when the honeymoon ended. But he's working harder and he's seen guys like Fish [Glen Fisiiahi] come on board too. If you roll it all into one word, I think it's maturity."
- Sunday Star Times