Tom Wood believes Northampton Saints teammate Lewis Ludlam has become a ‘role model’ within the squad, following the flanker’s inclusion in Opta’s global club team of the season.
Based on their unique index, Opta selected the highest rated players in top-level club rugby since the beginning of 2019, and asked supporters to vote for who they thought should make the cut in each position.
Ludlam, 24, got the nod in the back row alongside Gloucester’s Jake Polledri and Munster’s CJ Stander.
XV - Based on our unique index, we selected the highest rated players in top level club rugby since the beginning of 2019 and asked you to vote for who you thought should make the cut in each position, here is the Best Club XV based on those polls. Elite. pic.twitter.com/B8E44EF62L— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) April 28, 2020
The 2019/20 season has seen Ludlam continue his rapid progression, which earned him a place in England’s World Cup and Six Nations squads.
He featured heavily in the tournament in Japan, coming off the bench in the quarter-final win against Australia and scoring his first international try against the USA.
The Saints Academy graduate is now a regular member of Saints’ starting 15, often lining up alongside veteran Wood – who has plenty of kind words to say about his teammate.
“Lewis is quality,” said Wood. “On the pitch it’s there for everyone to see; his tenacity, his aggression, how full-on he plays the game, much like Teimana (Harrison) – he punches so much above his weight with aggression and tackle technique and everything else.
“He’s just a really good character as well. He’s a good leader, speaks really well, doesn’t overuse his voice.”Tom Wood
“But also he lives and breathes it because he gets stuck in and people respect that. When they can see you doing it, they respect you. If you’re all talk and you’re not backing it up, they won’t respect you.
“Lewis is at the front of the queue for anything physical and tough, delivering it physically, and when something needs saying, he’ll say it. He's a role model for all the youngsters.
“He’s still a youngster himself, but he is an established international now and he is a good role model to all those around him.
“It’s great playing alongside guys like him and Tei and Jamie [Gibson]. When you see guys around you getting stuck in and loving it that much and being able to rely on them, it’s great to be on the back row with characters like that.”