Louis Deacon hails Leicester Tigers faithful after a night to remember
Leicester Tigers lock Louis Deacon is still pinching himself after the "amazing" opportunity of leading out his side on home soil to face the Maori All Blacks.
Deacon was named captain for the historic win against the Maoris at Welford Road on Tuesday night, and also paid tribute to the 17,000-strong Tigers faithful who created an "awesome" atmosphere inside the ground.
After witnessing an electric performance of the Maori's haka, the crowd were treated to an inspired performance from Tigers, who dominated most of the encounter on their way to a deserved 32-24 win.
"It was amazing," said 32-year-old Deacon. "Those occasions don't come around very often, so for the club to be able to play in those sorts of games is very special, and then to go and win like that is amazing.
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"My dream was always to play for Tigers so, to get the opportunity not just to play for them, but also to lead the team out at Welford Road, is always nice.
"Each occasion when we've had international teams here, I've been away with England. I've never had that opportunity so it's great to be able to play in those games."
Deacon added that the Welford Road fans played a massive part in creating such an incredible atmosphere.
"They drive us on massively," he said. "Coming out to them stamping on the stands is awesome.
"In the changing rooms before the game, hearing that come through, it feels like the whole stand is going to come crashing down on you.
"But we feed off that before we come out and then, when you're walking down that tunnel, the noise from the Cat stand hits you – that's massive for the guys feeding off the crowd."
Tigers' victory against the Maori is not the first time they have turned over an international outfit.
In 2009, Tigers welcomed then-world champions South Africa to Welford Road and ran out 22-17 victors.
"We're a very proud club, were proud of our history and home record," said Deacon.
"We don't like losing no matter who comes here, whether that be a Premiership team, a Heineken Cup team or an international team, we do not want to lose to them.
"I think that showed in the way we approached the game on Tuesday and the way we played."
Before kick-off, Tigers players stood in unison on the halfway line and remained unmoved throughout the haka.
"You've got to respect that it's their culture, but we took the stand that we weren't going to turn away first and they respect that," said Deacon.
"Doing the haka is about honour and pride, so we went to the halfway line and faced it.
"It's something we had spoken about before the game – we are supposed to stand on the 10 metre line – but we decided to go up to the halfway and stay there and let them come to us.
"We weren't going to turn before they did. The idea came from Boris Stankovich, who has a Maori background, so hopefully they respected that."