STAR FULL-BACK Kevin Locke needs surgery, but could play again for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats this season.
Coach Brian Smith confirmed Locke suffered a ruptured pectoral muscle in last Sunday’s home defeat by Castleford Tigers, which was the New Zealand international’s third game for the club following his move from Salford Red Devils.
Initial fears were the injury would be season-ending, but Smith said Locke, who is contracted until the end of the current campaign, is prepared to play through the pain barrier if medics give him the green light.
Smith described Locke’s attitude as “a mix of determination and a bit of courage and a bit of hope” and admitted the player was “devastated” to be hurt so early in his Wakefield career.
“It will require surgery,” Smith said of the wound, which occurred when Locke attempted to tackle Tigers prop Grant Millington. “Kevin has opted for the tough option, which is that he is going to re-hab it for the next three weeks and at some point there we’ll know whether he can get enough strength back in that area of his shoulder to be able to come back to play, finish the season off and then have it done. Obviously if the re-hab doesn’t go well he’ll get it done much sooner than that.”
Locke has said he would be interested in staying at Wakefield next year, but Smith said: “We haven’t even discussed that.
“I have given him some space for the last couple of days, because he has had a really tortuous time since he has been in the UK.
“Nothing much has gone right for him. The fact he has chosen this option says a bit about him as a character and about his commitment to the guys in the club here at the Wildcats.
“Fingers crossed he gets a break and I am sure he can contribute to the luck by handling himself well and doing the re-hab well in the next three weeks – and whatever comes after that hopefully is good for him and good for us. He is hopeful. It is a major disappointment, but we thought it was much worse originally.”
Meanwhile, this week’s signings Lee Smith and Bill Tupou could both make their debut in Sunday’s final First Utility Super League fixture, at Huddersfield Giants. Tupou has joined Wildcats from Canberra Raiders on a contract until the end of next season and coach Smith said: “He seems to have adjusted fairly well after a long flight. He is a very powerful runner and a try-scoring type of player.”
Lee Smith, who has signed until the end of the current campaign, played for Wildcats in 2012 and 2013 before a spell in rugby union at Newcastle Falcons.
He had been training with Wildcats and Brian Smith said: “He hasn’t played any kind of rugby for quite some time so we’re not going to see the best of him straight off, but some of the things he’s done in training showed the feel and the touch and the skill he’s got.”
Smith said Jordan Tansey and Ali Lauitiiti are likely to miss Sunday’s game due to “knocks” and Tim Smith (knee) is unlikely to be risked.