Leicester's Brett Deacon is "lucky to be alive" after contracting a severe case of the immune-system disease lupus. That is what specialists told the 31-year-old flanker, who retired on Wednesday on medical advice, as they went on to explain that he was fortunate not to have suffered a heart attack as a result of his symptoms.
"The specialist said with the amount of clots I had I was lucky to be alive, with the potential for heart attacks," said Deacon, who has assumed a role in Leicester's academy. "It's tough having to retire through illness, but first and foremost comes your health."
Deacon said he first alerted club medics to a problem after a Tigers testimonial game for his younger brother, the England international Louis Deacon, at Welford Road in April. "I flagged it up after my brother's game because I felt so, so strange and couldn't breathe properly," he said.
Meanwhile, Leicester have joined the fight to lure Rhys Priestland away from the Scarlets. Director of rugby Richard Cockerill confirmed the Tigers have made contact with Priestland's agents, but he conceded it will be a big ask to secure the Wales fly-half's services for next season.
Leicester's current fly-half, their captain Toby Flood, has been heavily linked with a move to Heineken Cup champions Toulon should Jonny Wilkinson retire this summer. Cockerill said: "Yes, I have spoken to [Priestland's] representatives. I am sure there are lots of clubs who would like him, but it's just how it fits in. Priestland and Flood are of a similar age and have similar experience."
Sonny Bill Williams will return to New Zealand to switch codes again in 2015 in a bid to win another World Cup. He will play for league side Sydney Roosters next year, then head back to Waikato Chiefs.