Ludlam ready for 'incredible' moment as he is named in England team to face USA in Rugby World Cup
Lewis Ludlam admits he finds it 'incredible' that he will start for England in their Rugby World Cup Pool C clash against USA in Kobe in Japan on Thursday lunchtime (ko 11.45am).
The Saints flanker is one of 10 changes made by coach Eddie Jones, with England playing just four days after their opening group game against Tonga on Sunday morning.
The 23-year-old earned his fourth Test cap in that 35-3 win, and enjoyed his first taste of World Cup action, as a 54th-minute replacement.
Now the Saints star gets to experience a Rugby World Cup clash from the start, and he admits he still has to pinch himself at what has happened to him.
Ludlam, who made his Saints Premiership debut in September, 2018, was only picked for a senior England squad for the first time in late May, catching Jones' eye as he joined in training during preparations to face the Barbarians.
He was then a surprise pick and one of four uncapped players named in England's preliminary World Cup training squad, making his Test debut in the World Cup warm-up match against Wales.
Ludlam, who has been part of the Saints Academy since 2013, again impressed, was subsequently named in the Rugby World Cup squad, and he is now preparing for his first start on the biggest stage of all, and he is very excited about it.
"To play in a World Cup is what you work for. To get a chance to start is incredible," said Ludlam, who was born in Ipswich, and went to school at the town's St Joseph's College.
"If you'd had told me this time last year that I would be starting in a World Cup game, I would've told you you're crazy.
"Every time you pull on the shirt it could be your last time. It's a special moment every time and that doesn't change.
"I wear my heart on my sleeve and I'm a high-emotion player. Eddie (Jones) just keeps telling me to, 'rip in, go at it, be yourself and enjoy it'.
"The rest will look after itself and that's been really good for me. I'm best when the pressure's off me so I can relax, play my game and rip in."
Ludlam is joined in the England starting XV by Saints club-mate Piers Francis, who will make his Rugby World Cup debut at centre, while Courtney Lawes is named among the replacements.