The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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It is just over four weeks since Paul Deacon overheard that his life was in danger as he lay on a treatment table at Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium with blood pouring from his mouth after his upper jaw had been smashed by New Zealand's Nigel Vagana in the Tri-Nations. But already the Great Britain scrum-half has set his sights a February comeback at the same ground for Bradford in the World Club Challenge against Wests Tigers.
"I can't wait to get back playing again," said Deacon, speaking publicly for the first time since the controversial incident in Britain's 38-12 win against the Kiwis on November 12. "I can eat what I want now - I had my first steak last week. I go back to see the specialist on December 22 and hopefully he'll give me the all-clear to start full training again."
Deacon had enjoyed his best half-hour as an international player before he was hit by Vagana's swinging arm. "I didn't realise what I'd done at first," he said. "It was only at half-time when Brian Noble [Britain's coach] came back into the changing room and I heard the doctor, who was treating me, tell him it could be life-threatening. That was a bit of a shock."
Still, the 26-year-old insists he holds no grudge against Vagana. "I've seen a lot worse tackles do a lot less damage," he added, refusing to be drawn on how he felt watching Vagana play in the final two weeks later after serving only a one-match suspension. "I don't want to comment on that, but I'll talk to Nigel no problem."
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Andy Wilson is the rugby league writer for The Guardian and The Observer newspapers in the UK. We thank them both in reproducing Andy's article here.