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Deacon celebrates appearances landmark

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Louis Deacon had multiple reasons to celebrate on Sunday, but top of the list was making progress in the Heineken Cup.

The Leicester-born lock made his 200th start for the club (and his 225th first-team appearance since his debut in August 2000) as Tigers beat Benetton Treviso 62-15 to book a trip to Leinster in the last eight of Europe’s elite knockout tournament.

Named captain in the absence of the injured Geordan Murphy, Deacon received an engraved decanter from Tigers chairman Peter Tom at the final whistle in recognition of the landmark appearance and also accepted an ERC Elite Award for passing 50 games in the Heineken Cup.

“I’m very pleased to get there because it was a goal of mine,” Deacon said of his Heineken Cup landmark.

“There was a time at the start of the season when I wasn’t sure I’d get there but thankfully I’m back fit now and enjoying my rugby.”

Deacon, who has joined up with the England squad ahead of the RBS 6 Nations after being recalled to the national squad by manager Martin Johnson, added: “We couldn’t affect anything that was happening elsewhere in the competition, we just had to concentrate on our job today and make sure we got the five points. Once that is done you can see where it takes you.

“For us it was all about getting the win and the bonus point. We’ve done that and now we can look forward to going into the quarter-finals.

“It will be tough against Leinster, but at the quarter-final stages any game is going to be tough.”

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill, acknowledging the contribution of Deacon, who played his early rugby with Ratcliffe College, Syston and Wigston before progressing through the ranks at Tigers, said: “I’m delighted for Deacs to receive some acknowledgement like this. He has been fantastic for the club.

“He has made a massive contribution and he has come through some hard times in the last few years with injury. But he is back playing as well as ever and that says a lot about him.

“He has been immense on and off the field, he epitomises what this club is all about.”