Deacon ready to fight for his place
March 11, 2011
England expecting bruising battle%]
England lock Louis Deacon is relishing new lease of life just months after fearing his international days could be numbered.
The 30-year-old missed England's summer tour of Australia and the first half of the season with a debilitating back injury that showed no signs of healing. Deacon, who underwent surgery two years ago, eventually returned to action at the end of November after having six-inch needles stuck into his back muscles.
The Leicester Tigers stalwart still undergoes the painful treatment once a week but he produced his best-ever performance for England in the 17-9 victory over France. England tackle Scotland at Twickenham on Sunday knowing they are two victories from clinching a first Six Nations clean sweep since 2003.
"I didn't think I'd be playing for Leicester, let alone England," Deacon said. "I have had back troubles twice now. I thought I was out of the woods but it crept up on me again. I just didn't see when it was going to get any better.
"Some days I'd feel really good and then a couple of hours later it would come back again. "The worst point was probably going to bed at night hoping you'd wake up in the morning and it would be OK and then it wasn't. Things have turned around quite quickly. I had only played eight or nine games for Leicester and I found myself in the England squad."
While Deacon was sidelined he had to watch second row colleagues Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood establish themselves in a fast-improving England squad. "If you had asked me whether this would have happened four months ago I would have said no, especially with the way things were going with England," Deacon reflected. "Guys were performing and that makes it even more difficult to get an opportunity. Courtney got injured and it opened the door for me to get another chance."
Lawes is set to be included in England's 22 tomorrow after overcoming knee ligament damage and Deacon, who is now running the Red Rose lineout, will prove a hard man to shift as the World Cup looms.
Deacon has been one of England's stand-out players in this year's Six Nations © Getty Images
"This is probably the best I have felt for a long time," he added. "I played most of the Six Nations last year carrying injuries and it wears you down. Now I feel the best I have done for a long time.
"I have to be careful and manage the loads I do in training so when I go into games at the weekend I am in the best possible shape. I am certainly happy with the way things have been going. The team has evolved over the last 12 months and everyone is more comfortable playing with each other.
"My involvements in the France game were a lot more than usual but I try and play my game every week. I try and do the unselfish work that probably doesn't get noticed all the time. The set piece, the lineout, has been going well for me.
"The second row has always been competitive. I know Courtney is around now and it is great for England to have two players in each position but I have just been concentrating on performing well."
England manager Martin Johnson will confirm his team at mid-day today, with Toby Flood expected to continue at fly-half after recovering from an Achilles problem. As well as Lawes, Tom Croft is also back in the selection mix after making three appearances for Leicester to prove he is over the fractured shoulder suffered playing against South Africa in the autumn.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Bows, bouts and big hits, launches, lineouts and late tries. Here's the finest snaps from the last seven days: it's Week in Pictures time
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview