Locke arrival forces Salford exits
Salford Red Devils have parted company with Australians Tim Smith and Shannon McPherson to make room on their salary cap for the arrival of New Zealand Test full-back Kevin Locke.
Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash has secured the early release of Locke from the New Zealand Warriors and, having spent up to the club's wage ceiling, has negotiated deals to remove two of their highest earners from their books.
Scrum-half Smith, 29, will rejoin Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on a season-long loan, subject to gaining a new visa, while prop forward McPherson, also 29, will return with his family to Australia.
Salford paid an undisclosed transfer fee last August to the Wildcats for Smith, who had reignited his career at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium after a previous failed stint in Super League with Wigan Warriors.
Smith, who has failed to reproduce that form with the Red Devils, was due to meet new Wakefield head coach James Webster on Tuesday morning to finalise a return.
Salford coach Iestyn Harris said: "Tim is obviously a quality half-back but unfortunately he hasn't settled into life here as well as everybody hoped.
"We have talked at length with the player and his agent and see his immediate future elsewhere. He returns to the Wildcats with our very best wishes and we thank him for his efforts this season to date."
Salford chief executive Martin Vickers said: "Shannon asked to be released for family reasons and they are two of the club's biggest earners so clearly it does create capacity to enable us to complete the signing of Kevin Locke."
The 25-year-old Locke was due to join Salford on a three-year contract from November but has failed to break into the Warriors team this season and has reportedly fallen out with new coach Andrew McFadden.
Locke played for the Kiwis in the World Cup final in November but missed the start of the NRL season due to a knee injury and former Wigan Warriors and England full-back Sam Tomkins has since secured the full-back berth with the Auckland club.
Locke will catch a flight to England as soon as he receives his visa and Salford, who have engaged immigration lawyers in an attempt to rush through the paperwork, are hoping that some driving convictions will not prove an obstacle.
"We've got some specialist advisers helping us through the process," Vickers said. "The wheels are in motion and, as far as we're concerned, there shouldn't be any complications.
"The offences are quite dated and we're quietly confident it won't be an issue.
"We are in the hands of the authorities but we are told at best it could be a couple of weeks."
In the short-term, Salford are expected to give 20-year-old Niall Evalds a run at full-back against Bradford Bulls on Sunday following the return to Hull KR of Greg Eden while French scrum-half Theo Fages is back from injury to take the place of Smith.