Wigan have completed the signing of Bradford scrum half Paul Deacon on a three-year deal.
Wigan-born Deacon, who still lives in the town, will join the Warriors on an Assistant Coach contract supporting Michael Maguire and Shaun Wane but will operate also as a First-Team Player in 2010. Paul will combine his duties as Player and Assistant Coach before taking up the position of Assistant Coach full-time in 2011 and 2012.
The 30 year old celebrated a testimonial in 2008 and has spent twelve seasons with Bradford Bulls. He signed for Bradford in 1998 following a spell at Oldham Bears after playing his youth rugby at Hindley ARLFC where he also represented Wigan Schools, Lancashire Schools and England Schoolboys. In 2006 he broke the points and goals records for the Bradford Club and played in all five of the Bulls consecutive Grand Final appearances. In 2002, he was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy as Man of the Match as Bradford narrowly lost to St Helens. Paul made his Great Britain Debut in 2001 and has made 11 appearances for his Country. He has also represented England and Lancashire and has been Bradford Captain since 2007.
Following Wigan’s request to Bradford to acquire Paul Deacon who had one year remaining on his Contract, Bradford Bulls have now announced the signing of Scrum Half Matt Orford from Manly Sea Eagles to replace Deacon.
Warriors Head Coach, Michael Maguire, said: “We are delighted to secure the services of Paul, both as a Player and as a Coach. He will give us a number of options in our squad, covering the Halves and adding versatility with the likes of Thomas Leuluai. He also brings with him a wealth of experience; he is a natural leader and is a great role model for some of our younger guys.
“Paul is a great student of the game and is very tactically aware having been the main pivot for both Bradford and Great Britain during his career. I am really looking forward to working with him both as a playing member of the squad and in helping him to develop his Coaching career.”
Chairman, Ian Lenagan, added: “I would like to thank the Bradford Club for their thoughtfulness and concern for Paul in allowing him take up this Coaching career opportunity with his home-town club. He has been a great servant to the Bulls and we are grateful that they have shown the appreciation of his service by allowing him to move to Wigan.
“As I have said before, one of Michael Maguire’s remits as Head Coach is to develop top-quality, young Wigan coaches that work beneath him. Just like Shaun Wane, Michael will be able to take Paul’s skills and mould him into a Super League coach of the future. We have signed Paul primarily for his obvious potential coaching abilities but there is no doubt that his playing ability could be of significant benefit to us in the short term.
“Paul will have specialist duties as a Kicking Coach and a Half-Back Coach where he will help nurture the incredibly talented Sam Tomkins plus young Joe Mellor, a player who we regard as a potential Wigan star of the future, together with helping Thomas Leuluai to develop his game even further.”
Bradford Chairman Peter Hood commented: “We would like to thank Paul for 12 great years at Bradford Bulls. He has been a fantastic Player, a loyal servant and a great Captain. Due to the commitment he has shown to Bradford, we felt it was only right to let Paul move to his home-town club where he has the opportunity to develop a coaching career.”
Paul Deacon finished: “I would like to thank the Bradford Club, their fans, players, coaching staff, management and Board for 12 truly memorable years. It has been an honour to play and Captain the Team but I hope they can understand the great opportunity I now have to progress my career beyond my playing days. To work alongside Michael and Shaun really excites me and I can’t wait to get started.
“I have always harbored a desire to play for my home-town team and I hope to help Wigan win some silverware before I hang up the boots.”