'Ecstatic' Ludlam thanks Saints coaches for their show of faith
Lewis Ludlam admits he would never have believed that he would get so many first-team chances at Saints this season.
And the 23-year-old flanker, who recently signed a contract extension until the summer of 2021, is 'ecstatic' that he is now a fixture at Franklin's Gardens.
Having come through the Academy and played a key role for the title-winning Wanderers, Ludlam was desperate to get a run of games for Saints.
And since the arrival of boss Chris Boyd last summer, the Ipswich-born back row forward has become a first-team fixture.
"It's incredible," said Ludlam, who has made 13 appearances so far this season, starting 12 times.
"A massive thank-you to the coaches for giving me the opportunity and the confidence to play, enjoy myself and learn.
"If you'd have told me at the start of the season that I'd be in this position, I'd have been ecstatic. I'm not sure I would have believed you to be honest!
"It's worked out perfectly.
"I'm a long way off where I want to be, but as far as how things have gone this season for me, I'm heading in the right direction."
The high tackle counts of Ludlam and back row buddy Teimana Harrison have been a feature of Saints' successes in recent months.
And Ludlam said: "I love being involved in a game, I love tackling, I like being around it and I like the confrontation of it. It's something that's underpinned our back row this season.
"We're all dogs, we're all workhorses, we want to work for each other, we want to be involved and if we keep enjoying that confrontational side of things, we'll go a long way.
"It's been massive for me playing with Tei this season.
"We feed energy off each other. It's incredible to have someone with the same sort of mentality as you.
"When you know someone is going to put their body on the line for you as well, it goes a long way."
So how does the tackle count take its toll on Ludlam after games?
"I'm not too active post-match if I'm honest," he said, smiling.
"It's a weird sort of pain because you know you've put in a shift for the boys.
"As back rowers at this club, we like putting our head in the spokes, we like putting our body on the line for the team so it's bittersweet the day after."
Ludlam and Co will now look to win the Premiership confrontation with Wasps at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.
Saints have won both meetings with the men from Coventry this season, so how much of a morale boost is that going into the game?
"Somewhere in the back of your head, it goes into your mindset, but it's not something we've talked about to be honest," Ludlam said.
"The most important thing is that we continue our form.
"It's easy to get complacent after big wins and the challenge for us is backing up those performances and putting them in week after week.
"You've seen with a lot of teams in the Premiership that there's a lack of consistency. A few teams are getting big wins and then dropping off again.
"We need that consistency to separate us from the pack."