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.”
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