WORLD CUP finalist Kevin Locke is the man Wakefield Trinity Wildcats hope will keep them in Super League.
The New Zealander has joined Wakefield until the end of the season after the curtain finally came down on his stormy and controversial stint at Salford Red Devils.
Locke, 26, joined Salford on a three-year contract last July, but played in only 13 out of a possible 27 games before “resigning” last week following a dispute with the club’s owner Marwan Koukash.
He has joined Wakefield as a free agent, subject to receiving visa approval and could make his debut in next Wednesday’s home league fixture against Hull.
Locke may get an opportunity to show Salford what they are missing when the teams meet in this summer’s Qualifiers, a new competition involving Super League’s bottom four clubs against the leading quartet from the Championship.
The top three sides after that seven-game campaign will play in Super League next year, with those finishing fourth and fifth taking part in a one-off game for the elite competition’s final place.
Locke spent five years with New Zealand Warriors and has eight Test caps for the Kiwis, including an appearance at full-back against Australia in the 2013 World Cup final.
Wakefield chairman Michael Carter feels Locke’s star quality will provide the club with a lift on and off the field.
He said: “I would think he is one of the club’s top-five signings of all-time.
“He’s not coming here on the money he was on at Salford. He has come to play and to enjoy himself.
“He has come here because [new coach] Brian Smith is here and if he has a bit of fun with us and then goes back to Australia or New Zealand at the end of the season having done a good job, everybody wins.”
Meanwhile, Carter confirmed Wakefield are prepared to move away from their Belle Vue ground if the amount of rent they pay to landlords Bank of Ireland is not reduce.
Carter described the current cost of playing at Belle Vue as “unsustainable” and said he has submitted six months’ notice to the bank’s representatives, though he is hopeful a new agreement can be negotiated.