Getting ‘out of the Leicester bubble’ to learn from the best in Super Rugby has helped hone Brett Deacon’s coaching credentials ahead of the new campaign.
Deacon, who made 135 first-team appearances in Leicester colours as a player, jetted off to New Zealand earlier this year to study the work of Super Rugby franchises the Crusaders and the Highlanders.
His role on the Tigers coaching team sees him working with the forward pack and focusing on the breakdown, as well as other technical aspects of the game, throughout the club.
Now seven weeks into an extended pre-season back on Tigers turf, the senior development coach has spoken about how useful his experience half a world away has been.
“I’ve been here in Leicester a long time, and am early on in my coaching journey,” Brett admits.
“Things I have done so far have not gone as well as I would have wanted, so I wanted to get out of the Leicester bubble to go and see the quality in New Zealand at those Super Rugby teams.
“I also wanted to reflect and do a bit of soul searching on what I’m doing and if it’s the right stuff in my roles here at Tigers, as well as learning from the best – like the Crusaders – and how they get the best out of their players.”
The Christchurch side scooped their third straight Super Rugby title this summer under the guidance of head coach Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson, and Deacon says learning from the former All Black was invaluable.
“Razor is an unbelievable visionary, and he sets the theme and tone around the team unbelievably well,” he explains.
“To learn from a guy like that was great for me and my own experience.”
The 37-year-old also linked up with former Tigers team-mate Aaron Mauger at the Highlanders in Dunedin, where Deacon reflected on the importance of culture in Kiwi sport.
He explains: “Culturally, they always want to be better. People can call it corny, or you can see it as hard work, but they do whatever they have to do to be better every day.
“It was really positive to see. I can’t thank the Crusaders and Highlanders enough for allowing me into their environments and giving me the chance to learn from them.”
“I’m prepared to do anything to get … this club back to where we want to be.”Brett Deacon
The continuing personal development (CPD) opportunity – similar to scrum coach Boris Stankovich’s autumn role with Canada and head of medical services Ed Hollis’ work with Australia – came about following discussions with Tigers’ management.
“I had some really good discussions with Simon Cohen and Ged Glynn around my future and where I want to be, as well as what they want from me,” he continues.
“And I believed it was important to go away and learn, which they supported.
“Geordan [Murphy] didn’t want me to miss the opportunity, so he supported it despite it not being the best timing for me or the club and where we were on the ladder.
“But, there are long-term benefits for me and the club which he believed were important and he ultimately encouraged the trip.
“I am really passionate about seeing this club back to where we want to be and where we belong, at the top and winning, so I’m prepared to do anything to get to that outcome.
“We’re a young group who have a really open mindset and are willing to learn from everywhere. We’re not fixated on our own ideas and our own way, but we want to grow and learn in order to make this club better.”
But Brett’s finest accomplishment of the trip must, surely, be his sensational recreation of former Tigers fly-half Freddie Burns’ double drop-goal at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
He recalls: “I’d seen Freddie do it [on social media], and all the Highlanders boys were doing it, so I thought I’d have a go.
“First go: bang. I nailed it.
“Thankfully, the analyst was filming, or else people might not have believed I did it…”