Paul Deacon to savour Wembley final with Wigan Warriors

Paul Deacon
Deacon spent 11 years at Bradford before joining home town club Wigan

Wigan scrum-half Paul Deacon says he will savour playing in the Challenge Cup final against Leeds at Wembley.

The 32-year-old will quit playing to take up an assistant coach role at the DW Stadium at the end of the season.

"It's something I've always wanted to do and I have to pinch myself that I'll get the opportunity on Saturday," he told BBC Radio Manchester.

"Those are the memories that you'll take away from the game when you do hang the boots up."

Deacon was denied the opportunity to play at Wembley in the 2003 Challenge Cup final, as the game, in which he played for Bradford Bulls, was played at in Cardiff's Millenium Stadium while the home of English football was redeveloped.

He kicked five goals in that match as Bradford won 22-20 against this weekend's opponents Leeds Rhinos, but he knows the 11-times winners will pose a real threat on Saturday.

"We know how dangerous Leeds can be over the confrontations we've had over the past two years and we'll certainly expect that type of Leeds side to play on Saturday," he said.

"After the game the performance doesn't matter as long as you've won, but before the game the performance certainly matters as it's the performance that gets you the victory.

"We have to prepare for our best performance and that's what we'll be doing this week."

The ex-Great Britain back joined Wigan from Bradford in November 2009 and had planned to join the coaching staff full-time at the end of the 2010 season.

He made 20 appearances for the Warriors in his first season, scoring one try, as they won both the League Leaders' Shield and the Grand Final, which prompted a new one-year deal with his boyhood club.

Asked how special winning a Challenge Cup with Wigan would be Deacon said: "It's up there.

"I'm hoping that it will eclipse everything else memories-wise anyway.

"I'm really looking forward to that walkout. As my career has gone on it's times like that I've learnt to appreciate more than I used to do.

"A lot of the fans will have the same type of memories that I had growing up and hopefully they'll have a good day on Saturday.

"It's probably surpassed everything I expected coming to Wigan and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it."