Rugby League: Thunder aim to fill Walters gap

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GATESHEAD ARE to scour the Northern Ford Premiership to find a hooker to take over from their captain, Kerrod Walters, who has returned to Australia. The Thunder have accepted that Walters will not play for them again because of his concern about his wife, who was badly injured in a road accident in Thailand last month.

"It wouldn't be fair to anyone to bring someone in on loan," said the club's chief executive, Shane Richardson. "But putting a good, young British- based hooker in our team could be the making of him."

The list of promising hookers outside Super League is an interesting one, starting with the sought-after Richard Chapman at Featherstone and including Australia's Nick Jenkins at Workington and Anthony Murray at Leigh.

Wigan and Leeds have both failed to sign the Australian Test stand-off, Laurie Daley, who has revealed that he had offers from both clubs earlier this season and was keenly interested in taking one of them before deciding to stay with his only professional team, the Canberra Raiders.

Wigan may now be keen on recruiting Chris Chester from Halifax. The young player can cover as stand-off and loose forward - both positions in which Wigan have had injury problems this season - and Halifax's parlous financial position could make them amenable to an approach. The club has serious doubts about their future because of cash-flow difficulties and is only being bailed out by an advance from Super League on the condition that costs are cut.

Chester is Halifax's most saleable asset - he would still attract a transfer fee under the Bosman ruling and his departure could give Halifax some breathing space.

Leeds, too, could soon be in the market following a hamstring injury that will keep their Australian centre, Brad Godden, on the sidelines for several weeks.

The Leeds coach, Graham Murray, is already without his other first-choice centre, Richie Blackmore, for an indefinite period and admitted that the situation might need to be addressed.

The Rugby League is studying a video of an incident involving another Leeds player, Andy Hay. He was placed on report for a suspected late tackle that led to Castleford's Brad Davis being carried off in a neck brace on Sunday, although his injuries turned out not to be serious.

Castleford's Brad Hepi was also placed on report for high-tackling in the same match.