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Ludlam relishing leading determined Saints squad

Lewis Ludlam admits the most rewarding part of his tenure as Northampton Saints’ co-captain has been the way the squad has turned the Club’s fortunes around since late December.

The Men in Black, Green and Gold halted a frustrating losing run which stretched back into the previous campaign, and have now won the last three matches they have played, beating Worcester Warriors, Gloucester and Wasps.

Covid-19 has seen three further matches cancelled since the turn of the year, but ahead of what is likely to be Saints’ sternest test of the season so far this weekend as they travel to Sandy Park to face Exeter Chiefs, Northampton sit fifth on the Gallagher Premiership ladder.

England flanker Ludlam was appointed Club skipper alongside Alex Waller back in November, and the 25-year-old insists the unwavering desire to improve from the entire Saints squad is helping him settle into life as co-captain.

“I’m enjoying leading but equally frustrated we’ve not been able to play as many games as we would have liked,” he said.

“My job as co-captain is made very easy by having Alex Waller at my side and having lots of other lads in leadership roles. There are a lot of natural leaders here and it’s always a lot easier when you’re winning games too.

“Around the Club it’s louder and more joyous on a Monday morning in particular after a big win!

“The most impressive thing about this team is how we have stuck together despite that run we had. To pull ourselves out of that was extremely encouraging.”

Lewis Ludlam

“I’ve not seen any sign of the team becoming fragmented at all; there’s been a definite shift and improvement, and that mental side is something we’re actively talking about.

“Confidence goes a long way in a team to close out a game, and you can’t really explain it. It seems like when you’re a winning team those 50/50s seem to go your way.

“I’m really proud of where this side has got to in the past few weeks to dig ourselves out of that losing streak we were on, and we’re looking forward to keeping it going.”

Saints face reigning European and Premiership champions Exeter this weekend, and having not beaten the Chiefs in their last five meetings, Ludlam is adamant that this is another unwanted run the gritty Northampton squad are determined to arrest.

He added: “If you look at how we performed down there in the Heineken Cup quarter-final last season, that was off the back of losing several games on the bounce.

“To go down there on a good run of form is really exciting and it’s a challenge we’re really looking forward to.

“Exeter are one of the best teams in Europe, and we’re really relishing the prospect of going down there and trying to upset them.

“Last time we went to Sandy Park, we put in a performance but didn’t get the result we wanted, and I don’t think the scoreline reflected how well we played.

“This time we’re heading down with some added bounce about us and some confidence behind us from the last few games, so it should be a great test.

“The back rowers always feel like we dictate the game in terms of breakdown speed and defence, so as always we have a massive part to play there against the Chiefs.”