Captaincy helping Ludlam to show his class at Saints

Lewis LudlamLewis Ludlam
Lewis Ludlam
Lewis Ludlam says being Saints skipper has helped him to play his natural game.

Though Chris Boyd' s side have lost their past three matches, Ludlam's level has rarely dropped.

He has been in fine form this season, showing just how much he has developed since emerging from the Saints Academy.

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And when asked whether he feels captaining the club has lifted his performance levels, Ludlam said: "It's my childhood club so it makes every game more emotional for me.

"I was very much a player who lived in my own head a little bit, probably overthought a little bit but my focus is now very much how I can get myself across to the team in the best way and how we win games outside of myself.

"Maybe taking that focus off myself has helped me relax and play my natural game.

"My focus is very much on the team.

"When my focus is on how we can get the best out of this group of players, I feel like we play some of our best rugby.

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"I'm not 100 per cent happy with where I'm at and you never are as a sportsman because there's always things you can work on.

"The focus is very much on winning games at the club and doing everything I can to get us across over the line at the weekends."

The next challenge for Ludlam and Co is a home clash with Saracens on Sunday.

It is a tough way to start the new year for a Saints side who have been beaten by Racing 92, Ulster and Harlequins in recent weeks.

But Ludlam said: "We're excited.

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"We were obviously disappointed after what happened on Monday (Saints lost 41-27 to Quins at Twickenham) but the best thing about Prem rugby is that you've got another game on the following weekend to put it right.

"It's a big occasion for us against a quality side with a lot of quality players.

"We're back at home and it's an exciting time.

"Every game at this stage is a massive game and it's no different this week.

"You saw on Monday that if you lose one game you can slip from fourth to fifth and that gap between fifth and the rest of the table is very narrow as well.

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"Every game is massive and against a team who have been there, done it and won it all, with some fantastic players in there, it's a great occasion to go out and hopefully get our new year off to a great start."

Saints had gone into last weekend sitting third in the Gallagher Premiership standings, but they are now fifth and desperately seeking a return to form.

"Frustration is a key emotion but we're really trying to stay process-driven as much as possible," Ludlam said.

"We've taken some lessons from some of the games and implemented them but not quite got across the line.

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"We're very much focused on what we can do better this week and we're not panicking too much.

"We've got all the tools in our locker to go out and win these games of rugby.

"It's on us to get it right this weekend."

Saints know they will have to improve if they are to beat a Saracens side who currently sit second in the standings following a 61-29 Boxing Day demolition of Worcester Warriors.

And Ludlam knows what his team must do better to prevail on Sunday.

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He said: "One thing that's killing us at the moment is discipline so being squeaky clean around our breakdown decisions is a massive message for us.

"We've got to go out and back ourselves and trust the system as much as possible because we have got the players.

"We've got the shape, we're extremely well-coached and we've got all the tools in our locker to go out and be a great side - it's just about living up to that potential.

"We need to implement the things we work on in the week consistently at the weekend for an 80-minute stretch."

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So how can much-punished Saints stop being sinners in the weeks and months to come?

"If you look at where we're getting pinged, a lot of it is at breakdown and if you're not making dominant tackles in defence, that's usually when you get caught the wrong side of it," Ludlam said.

"Usually when you're on the back foot, you're giving away penalties so we've got to try to make our defence more dominant and our scrum more dominant.

"We think that can make up for a lot of that and our tackle technique.

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"It's something we've definitely been working on and there's also the silly little things like talking back to the ref from some lads. It is something that's easy to cut out, it's a choice and we've got to ensure it can't happen again in this team."

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