'No blame over death,' says father

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The Independent Online

The father of Leon Walker, the Wakefield forward who died in a reserve game on Sunday, has appealed to the other player involved in the tackle not to blame himself.

Steve Walker, himself a former player, said he did not know the name of the Celtic Crusaders player. "But my message to that lad is please, please do not blame yourself in any way," he said on BBC Yorkshire's Look North last night. "Don't stop playing the game."

A 19-year-old hooker or half-back will make his first-team debut in the place of Britain's leading full-back in St Helens match at Wakefield tomorrow night. Paul Wellens is ruled out by a chronic knee condition, which will need surgery after the Easter programme.

"We are trying to nurse him through," said his coach, Mick Potter, who has called up the untried Jonny Lomax for his first appearance in Super League. "His opportunity has probably come earlier than expected, but he's a good young kid and he'll acquit himself well."

With Sean Long and James Roby also injured, Gary Wheeler is switched from the wing to the unfamiliar role of scrum-half. Francis Meli replaces him on the flank for his first game of the season. Potter was critical of the League for failing to take action over a tackle on Maurie Fa'asavalu, who is also doubtful for tomorrow's game. Fa'asavalu was left concussed and with a broken nose by a shoulder from Leeds' Ryan Bailey, who was not called in to face any charge by the League.

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