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One of us on the frontline

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Farewell then to one of our own. Louis Deacon has announced his retirement this week.For every exciting overseas signing or potential international brought in from the outside, there is still at least an equal attraction for many supporters in having a local lad come through to the Tigers first-team. It is as if ‘one of us’ is donning the shirt.   Deacs has been a loyal and consistent servant, clocking up more than 270 games despite some serious injury problems. Although he may have been under-estimated by some in his 29 appearances for England, as Tigers fans, we know a good ’un when we see one.   As well as being a local lad playing for his hometown club, part of the appeal here, certainly for The Tig, is that Louis Deacon-types are not a common sight on the professional rugby field. He is an echo of a previous era, a link with the days of Martin Johnson, Dean Richards and others in the Tigers past.   A one-club man, as hard as they come, doing the donkey work in areas lesser mortals fear to tread, that is where Deacs stood out. A toe-to-toe player, a physical presence, a man to look to when the going gets tough, that is why you want a Deacon, a Corry, a Johnson, a Richards in your squad.   Some call them The Enforcer, and they are becoming an endangered species. Perhaps it is something to do with the pace of the modern game, the modern pitches, the search for all-round footballers. Perhaps it is something to do with multiple cameras, citing commissioners and the absence of self-policing in the game now. Whatever the reason, the role of the enforcer is not what it was.   But a Deacon, or a Brad Thorn, will always be warmly received by their team-mates, and that is the status those players love most. Without the grafter in the pack, the sparkles in the backline will be unable to shine. Having a player who will always be there when the going is tough, that is where hearts and minds are won.   As such, Deacon’s place is assured in a list of Leicester’s leading men. And his two Players’ Player of the Year awards will mean as much to him as his other achievements. Thanks Deacs.