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Page last updated at 21:02 GMT, Sunday, 22 March 2009

Rugby league player dies in game

Leon Walker
Walker joined the Wakefield Wildcats from Salford City Reds

A Wakefield Trinity Wildcats rugby league player has died after collapsing during a reserve team game against Celtic Crusaders at Maesteg on Sunday.

Leon Walker, 20, collapsed in the 63rd minute and was airlifted to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, where he was pronounced dead.

Sunday evening's Super League game between Wakefield and the Crusaders was called off.

Walker is the second Wildcats player to die in the last six months.

Cook Island international Adam Watene, 31, died after collapsing during a training session in October.

The reserve team game at Maesteg kicked off at 1500 GMT with the Super League game due to start four hours later.

Wakefield Chairman Ted Richardson said: "This is a tragic loss for all involved with Rugby League.

"Clearly everybody at the club is devastated by this news and all our sympathies and prayers are with the family at this time."


Nigel Wood, RFL chief executive, said: "This is truly shocking and tragic news and our heartfelt condolences go to the parents, family and friends of Leon as well as the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats club.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those involved at this devastating time."

Walker, a second rower or loose forward, signed for Wakefield in November 2008 having spent three years at Salford City Reds where he earned representative honours with Yorkshire and England in 2007.

Before joining Salford, he played for amateur side Churwell Chiefs.

When Watene died last year, the Wildcats were still mourning the sudden death of Great Britain and Wakefield legend David Topliss, who collapsed during a five-a-side football match in June at the age of 58.

The club also lost two members of their 1968 Challenge Cup final team during 2008.

In August, Don Fox, who was the Lance Todd Trophy winner in their Wembley defeat by Leeds, lost his long battle with illness, and in December centre Ken Hirst passed away.

In addition, prop forward Richard Moore has yet to play this season after being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease.

And only last month, stand-off Jamie Rooney revealed his heart stopped for 30 seconds during routine knee surgery and he had to be resuscitated.

A statement from the Celtic Crusaders said: "We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Leon Walker's family, friends and colleagues.

"This was a tragic loss, not only for Leon's family but for everyone involved with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, and are hearts are also with John Kear and everyone at the club today.

"We are offering our support to Leon's family and to everyone at the Wildcats and if they need any help with anything during this time, then all they need to so is contact us.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone at this sad time."

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see also
Defiant, united and unbowed
19 Feb 09 |  Wakefield
Rooney relief after heart scare
12 Feb 09 |  Wakefield
Wildcat Moore has Crohn's disease
11 Feb 09 |  Wakefield
Rugby league player dies suddenly
13 Oct 08 |  Bradford
GB and Wakefield legend Fox dies
21 Aug 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby league star Topliss mourned
17 Jun 08 |  Rugby League

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