Injured Louis Deacon's tribute to his Leicester Tigers team-mate Ed Slater
INJURED Louis Deacon today paid tribute to the man who will replace him for tonight's big clash with title rivals Saracens at Welford Road.
Deacon believes Ed Slater's "natural old school attitude" has turned him into a "proper Leicester Tiger."
Slater will take injured Deacon's place in the second-row for the game, live on ESPN, with an 8pm kick-off.
While 32-year-old Deacon is bitterly disappointed to miss out on such a big game, he thinks the man who is eight years his younger, is fully equipped to stand toe-to-toe with the big and bruising Sarries' pack for what will be his 61st appearance for the club.
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"I like Slates' attitude," said Deacon. "He has worked very hard since he arrived here and he does not take any messing.
"He is old school and he has that old school mentality which is nice because he has not been around for too long and so has not played with the guys who instilled that attitude at the club.
"He has naturally got that attitude which I like to see and he never takes a backward step on the field. Some of that has rubbed off on him while he has been learning here but a lot of that is natural.
"He is a proper Leicester forward. When he first joined, he was a back-rower and very raw, but he has just got better and better.
"I would say Ed is a typical Leicester player. He has been patient because he has been behind me and Geoff Parling in the squad.
"I had to be patient too when I was waiting for my chance behind Ben Kay and Martin Johnson. You just have to bide your time and not get frustrated.
"Eventually, you get your opportunities to play, then those guys retire and you get even more opportunities. He's doing really well."
While there is clearly plenty of a young Deacon in Slater, it is the 24-year-old who will have to go out and get things done tonight as the elder of the two locks nurses a troubled shoulder, picked up at The Stoop last weekend.
And it was that 25-21 defeat by Harlequins that Deacon believes gives greater importance to the latest meeting between two sides that drew 9-9 at Wembley earlier on in the season.
"This week's game is now more important after last week's loss," said Deacon.
"This is a tough period for us with our internationals away and we just have to get the best out of ourselves.
"They don't lose many forwards to international duty. They are really strong up front and they have a really good set piece. We will have to do well in that area of the game."