FORMER Bradford, Wigan, England and Great Britain halfback Paul Deacon (pictured) was last week added to Steve McNamara’s coaching staff for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.
The 34-year-old, who is also part of Wigan’s current coaching setup, will link up with the England squad at the culmination of the Super League season, and will act as assistant to McNamara as England attempt to win a first World Cup.
“I’m absolutely made up and very honoured to be given the chance to work with my country,” says Deacon.
“James Lowes had to give up his post to become head coach of Leeds Carnegie at Rugby Union, so that’s how the job came up. I’ve been involved for the last few England games, running messages on to the pitch and so on, and Steve gave me a call, came over to Wigan and offered me the job.”
Deacon played for England in the 2000 World Cup, and is relishing the opportunity to again be involved on Rugby League’s biggest stage.
“I’m very excited. It’s massive for the game and the pinnacle of anyone’s career. To be involved as a coach is a real privilege, especially on home soil.”
British sport is currently riding the crest of a wave after last year’s Olympic Games, followed by the British and Irish Lions winning down under, Andy Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon and England’s cricketers currently having it their own way against the Australians.
Deacon sees the World Cup as an opportunity for Rugby League in this country to continue those successes.
“British sport has been massively successful over the last few months – we desperately want to carry that on,” he adds.
“It’s huge for Rugby League in this country that we have a successful World Cup, but also that the competition itself is a good spectacle. We need to spread the word of Rugby League and get more column inches in the national papers. This is an immense chance to do that.
“I believe we can go all the way. The squad we have at our disposal is full of high quality players, and I’m sure they all believe we can win it.
“Australia will be favourites – and New Zealand will probably be second favourites, so we have a tough task on our hands. But I can guarantee the preparation will be second to none, and the players as a unit will be ready.
Deacon will remain on the coaching staff at Wigan for the rest of this season and beyond, and is confident the Warriors can lift some silverware to give him some personal momentum as he joins up with England, especially after Saturday’s 70-0 thrashing of London Broncos in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup.
“My priorities are with Wigan until the end of the season, and it’s so far, so good. We’ve lost top spot but the goal before the start of the season was to go to Old Trafford and win it, and that’s not changed.”
By JAMES WHALING