Scotland head coach McCormack admits he would be delighted to secure Locke’s services
THE head coach of Scotland’s rugby league team has welcome the news that Kevin Locke, one of the New Zealanders who ended his side’s heroic bid at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, has indicated that he may switch sides in time for the next tournament.
Steve McCormack made it clear, however, that the 25-year-old will have to make his commitment to the cause clear before he will be considered.
“We actually spoke about Kevin prior to the 2013 campaign because we knew he was eligible but we also knew he was likely to be picked for New Zealand,” said McCormack. “Our chairman Keith Hogg and I both spoke to him after they beat us in the quarterfinal at Headingley and I’ve now read some comments from Kevin suggesting he may be interested in playing for Scotland which is good to see.”
Locke made the last of eight Test appearances in the World Cup final at Old Trafford. But he was effectively squeezed out of their domestic game last year when his Auckland-based NRL club side the New Zealand Warriors recruited English full-back Sam Tomkins, forcing him to move the other way in a lucrative deal to join Salford Reds. He revealed when he moved that Scotland’s two professional rugby union clubs had approached him saying: “I got a few union offers in Scotland around the same time as here, from Edinburgh and Glasgow, but I wanted to stay in league. I didn’t want to switch.”
However it seems he was talking about codes rather than nationality having admitted to the specialist magazine League Express this week that while he would like to play for New Zealand again he believes his move to Super League has probably ruled him and he is consequently weighing up options.
“I qualify for Scotland through my father and after I played against them for in the World Cup quarterfinal one of the Scotland coaches mentioned to me that I should play for them in future, so you never know,” he told them. While Scotland relied heavily on English and Australian born players at that tournament they have avoided selecting players who have been capped at full Test level by another country, but doing so is within rugby league’s rules so McCormack’s main concern is maintaining squad morale.
“We’ve changed the way people look at us in the last few years and we’ve now got a lot of interest from Super League and NRL players who want to play Test rugby,” he said, noting that Keith Galloway, the Wests Tigers prop who has played for Australia and Banffborn Newcastle Knights winger James McManus, are already in the frame.
“However we got the balance right for the last World Cup and we need every player who plays for Scotland to know they are doing it for the right reason.”
POSER: Steve McCormack challenged Kevin Locke to prove his worth to the team