RUGBY LEAGUE: Ex-NRL star Kevin Locke says some things are more important than footy, after officially parting ways with the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
The 28-year-old had come to the Coast in a bid to revive his NRL career, but a trip home to New Zealand for his sister's wedding revealed a burning desire to spend more time with his four-year-old son.
And while he hasn't given up the dream of playing NRL again one day, Locke said it was time to get his priorities right.
"Family is a little more important than rugby league," he said.
"I've been away from him for most of his youth and he's now at an age where he understands I'm just a temporary father. I've just been in and out."
Locke's Sunshine Coast-based manager Scott Hill helped him link with the Falcons in the off-season.
He spent time living with coach Craig Ingebrigtsen before he moved-in with Sunshine Coast Lightning's Caitlin Bassett, a friend of his wife, Thunderbirds netball star, Chelsea.
Locke also responded to questions suggesting his marriage had broken down.
"We are married and like I said, that's it," he said.
"Whether we're together, or not, is between us."
He played at fullback in a trial match against Redcliffe and in Round 2 against Souths Logan. It would be the last time fans would see Locke in a Falcons jumper.
"I spoke to Trigger (Ingebrigtsen) yesterday," Locke said.
"It's disappointing I had to leave but he's a very understanding man, which made the decision easier for me.
"I wanted to be there to play football but had to think about more important things."
Ingebrigtsen relayed similar thoughts and said Locke was a "tremendous talent".
"He would have ripped this competition apart if he had his mind on everything," the coach said.
Ingebrigtsen left the door open for a possible return to the Falcons one day down the track.
"It's more important for him to be around family than football at the moment so hopefully he can sort that out over there and get on with raising his young fellow," he said.
A gifted footballer, Locke helped the Warriors to an NRL grand final in 2011 during his 88-game stint at the club. He played eight matches for his country.
Locke also plied his trade in England but battled to make an impression there.
He spent some of the pre-season with Manly but signed with the Falcons in December in a bid to impress NRL teams and resurrect his career.
He said he wouldn't give up the dream.
"There's been players that have done it before at my age, it just comes down to how I perform and who I play for," he said.
"It could be back to club footy, which it's likely to be if I decide to play. But in the meantime I'm just focusing on the main reason why I've come back."
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