Hard work starts now for Ipswich’s Lewis Ludlam at Northampton Saints

Lewis Ludlam

Lewis Ludlam - Credit: Archant

The hard work starts now for Ipswich schoolboy Lewis Ludlam, who has secured a dream move to Premiership giants Northampton Saints.

The former St Joseph’s College skipper, who led his team to glory in last year’s St Jo’s Festival, began pre-season training at Franklin’s Gardens this week after signing a one-year professional deal with the club, for whom he had represented at academy level.

The contract represents a big milestone in the teenager’s career – the former Gorseland Primary and Kesgrave High School pupil having briefly been dropped by the current Aviva Premiership champions as a youngster.

“I am absolutely chuffed, I am really happy, and now the hard work starts,” said Ludlam, who joins former St Jo’s team-mates George Wacokecoke (Bath), Dan Lewis (Oyonnax) and Karl Wilkins (Clermont Auvergne) in signing professional deals this summer.

“I stood out at under-18 level but now I am a small dog in a much bigger pack, it will be a lot tougher and I have got to prove myself.”

Ludlam is a self-confessed Saints fan but his hopes of playing for the team he supported suffered a blow when he was considered not good enough to be part of the club’s academy.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to win a professional contract and I am a Saints fan too, which is great,” said the England Under-18 international.

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“It looked like it would not happen for a while when I was dropped – I don’t think I was performing at the level I should have been – but two years later they (Northampton) invited me back.

“That certainly gave me added motivation and made me realise what I was missing and how much I enjoy my rugby.

“Now I’m at Northampton, I just want to keep enjoying my rugby and climbing the ladder. I hope to play rugby for a long time.”

Ludlam leaves St. Jo’s having impressed during his time at the Belstead Road-based college and is grateful for the time he spent there.

“It’s been fantastic, and as a team we did really well at the Festival last year,” recalled Ludlam.

“We maybe had a few regrets at not going further in the Daily Mail Cup – (now known as the Natwest Cup) – and there were a few ups and downs.

“But the support St Jo’s gives rugby is incredible and I feel so fortunate, as do many other boys that have worked so hard during their time there.”

Saints, who also have another former St Jo’s pupil Alex Day, and ex-Colchester youth player Mikey Haywood in their ranks, begin their new Aviva Premiership campaign at home to Gloucester on September 5.

Meanwhile, rugby players at St Jo’s will be coached by new director of rugby, Joel Unsworth, next term.

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