Returning heroes will be big European boost -– Leicester Tigers' Louis Deacon
Leicester Tigers forward Louis Deacon believes the return of the club's triumphant England contingent can see the side step up another level for this weekend's Heineken Cup clash with Treviso.
Deacon captained the Tigers to their hard-fought 17-12 Aviva Premiership victory over Bath on Saturday.
The result in itself should help to ensure that confidence in the Tigers' camp will be high.
But there will surely be an added vigour with the return of Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling fresh from England's stunning 38-21 win over New Zealand at Twickenham.
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"We lost some really important players to the international games," said the Tigers' second-row. "But the guys who have come in really stepped up against Bath.
"It was a big improvement on the previous week's match with Wasps and, with the guys coming back from the internationals, hopefully we can improve again this weekend."
Tigers host Treviso at Welford Road on Sunday, then travel to Italy the following weekend for a brace of crucial European Cup games.
Deacon predicts two demanding fixtures as Leicester press for a place in the quarter-finals, but said: "It was nice to get that win over Bath. From that performance we can start building."
Tigers had to dig in and show patience before eventually sealing victory on Saturday – at half-time the home side were still looking to get their first points on the board despite plenty of possession deep in the Bath half.
"It was a case of keep doing what we were doing," Deacon said. "We had a few penalty opportunities but chose to kick for the corner.
"At the start of the second half, we took the points on offer."
Key to the eventual outcome, Deacon added, was Tigers' mental approach throughout the afternoon."
He also had words of praise for the work of full-back Mathew Tait, who looks to be getting back to something like his best form after an injury-blighted spell.
"We have got some pace in the back three," Deacon said. "Mat is improving week on week. I know myself that it takes a while to get back to playing at that intensity but Mat has improved each week."
Louis' brother Brett Deacon has been banned for one week by Tigers after an internal club review found him guilty of striking an opponent.
He was red-carded during Saturday's win against Bath.
A club statement said: "Brett regrets his actions, which left his team with 14 men during the second half of a vital club match."