Deacon hopeful of exacting Kiwi revenge
Former Great Britain star Paul Deacon is hoping his first battle with New Zealand as a coach will be more successful than his last hurrah as a player.
The scrum-half was infamously floored by a Nigel Vagana swinging arm in the 2005 Tri-Nations – a cowardly and mindless foul that fractured Deacon’s upper palate and burst enough blood vessels to pose a choking risk.
The team’s doctor Chris Brooks worked on him for two hours and likened the injuries to that of a car-crash victim.
Great Britain were 12-0 up at that point and Deacon was playing an instrumental role.
He said: “That turned out to be my last international game.
“It was ironic. Everyone said I was playing my best game yet – and I had to go get carted off. It was good and bad in both senses.
“But it was a freak injury; I’d never heard of it before that or since. It still gets brought up in conversations sometimes because of just how freaky it was.”
Looking ahead to the semi-final, Steve McNamara’s assistant coach believes the Kiwis are beatable at Wembley.
“This Kiwis side now are beatable, we know they are,” he said.
“They are not on a pedestal. We just need to put them under that pressure that they’ve not had yet and, hopefully, make them crack.”
Deacon added: “We’re well aware of what we’re up against. New Zealand have had a tremendous tournament, nearly faultless really.
“Samoa tested them for a short period in their first game – put them under a bit of pressure – but they came through that.
“We know we have to be at our best. A lot has been said about our performance against France. That wasn’t us really.
“We know we’re better than that. We need to be and that’s what we’re planning.”Comment on this and other stories on the Total Rugby League Fans Forum