No surprise to see ever-green Deacon play on at Wigan

DO NOT be surprised to gain a sense of deja vu this time next year.

Not just the usual longing for rugby league to start up again after nearly two months without any domestic action, nor that predictable sense of dread as yet another rendition of Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody is piped through every shop you walk in to.

But it would be no major shock as well if Paul Deacon announced he was extending his playing career by yet another 12 months.

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The former Bradford Bulls star confirmed over the weekend that he has signed a new one-year deal at Wigan after helping his hometown club to their first Super League title since 1998.

After leaving Odsal this time last year, the little scrum-half was only supposed to play a single campaign for the cherry and whites before taking up a coaching role at DW Stadium but such was his positive impact on the squad, Michael Maguire showed no hesitation in offering him another deal.

It should not be a significant surprise given Deacon is still only 31. All this talk of his imminent retirement seemed a tad premature when first discussed upon his arrival at Wigan.

Granted, Deacon had grown stale at Bradford, where he had reached a testimonial year and won every major honour for the club, and a series of niggling injuries had seen him struggle to command sides like he had done in his pomp.

But how much of that was also down to the fact that the whole Bulls side was in decline and there was so much pressure on their playmaker's own shoulders to revitalise them – he being one of the few remaining figures of an era where Bradford had reached five consecutive Grand Finals?

Deacon was allowed to move on once Steve McNamara had secured the services of Matt Orford, the revered Manly scrum-half who was viewed as the man who could revive the Bulls, but there are no doubts who got the better deal.

While Orford currently remains back in Australia, recovering from a shoulder injury which ended his season in May and chasing a deal with any NRL club which will buy him out of his remaining two years at Odsal, his predecessor enjoyed an Indian summer across the Pennines proving an uncanny signing for the new Super League champions.

Indeed, Deacon was the only player Maguire – who coached Orford during his time at Melbourne – brought in last autumn and his input has been immeasurable.

There was initial concerns about where he would fit in given Wigan had the New Zealand World Cup winning scrum-half Thomas Leuluai in their ranks alongside rising England star Sam Tomkins and Deacon is hardly the sort of player needed to come off the bench, given rise to theories he was ostensibly there ready to ease into that coaching role in 2011.

But, as the season developed, Maguire acknowledged the skills the former Great Britain international still possessed and found a way of incorporating him into his side, moving Tomkins to full-back and opening up a whole new attacking angle for his table-topping side.

The dazzling Tomkins revelled in his new role wider out and Deacon slotted in seamlessly at half-back providing the link to their devastating dangerman and orchestrating much of Wigan's best attacks.

He looked re-born as the Warriors powered to Old Trafford, often putting people like Tomkins, Leuluai, Man of Steel Pat Richards and captain Sean O'Loughlin in the shade with his dominant control.

Deacon showed he still has all the handling skills required of a top-class half-back, had an extra spring in his step, compared to those latter days at Bradford, and re-produced the stellar kicking game which has been his trademark throughout out a trophy-laden career.

Maguire has said he will be an "integral" part of his side in 2011. Maybe he will be in 2012 as well and not just in a coaching capacity.