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Deacon deserving of a Christmas break

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Louis Deacon certainly earned the opportunity to put his feet up this Christmas. The England international has featured in 16 of Leicester's games so far this season, sitting out only a single fixture - the draw against Gloucester back in mid-September - and starting 14 of those matches.

But after being one of six try-scorers in the win over Bristol Rugby on Friday evening which took Tigers to the top of the Guinness Premiership, Deacon will not be involved in the matchday 22 at London Irish today, as head coach Pat Howard rotates his squad through a hectic holiday spell.

"I'm quite happy with my form at the moment and you always look to keep playing and keep that form going, but the game limit is creeping up and, when it comes to the massive games at the end of the season, you don't want to be told you have to sit it out," said Deacon who has just passed the 150-game mark as a Tigers player.

After starting the season on the blindside flank, Deacon has enjoyed a recent run in the second row, the position in which he has earned his England recognition.

"It took a little while against Worcester to get used to being in the second row again, especially in the set-piece areas and on defensive line-outs," he said. "I felt a bit rusty, but I have enjoyed a run in the second row and I think I am playing quite well. I think I am mixing up my game more. It is not just about being happy with the bits that not everyone sees in the breakdowns and set-pieces, but now it is also about getting my hands on the ball more and getting about the pitch. I am really enjoying my rugby at the moment."

Deacon grabbed the sixth and final try in the win over Bristol, but admitted the margin of victory did not look guaranteed early on in the game at Welford Road.

"In the first 20 minutes, I thought we were in for a really tough, close game. It was very physical and you have to give them credit there. We also started a bit slowly, a little on the back foot, standing off them quite a bit, before we really got going. We got a couple of scores just at the right time in the spell leading up to half-time. At times we did not hang on to the ball as well as we should - perhaps we were forcing it a bit too much. We knew if we held on to it a bit better then we could have caused a lot more damage. But we stuck at it and the scores came when we looked after the ball. We did not have to force it so much later on because we were well ahead by then."