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Ludlam: 'I tried my hardest and that is all you can ask for'

By PA
Lewis Ludlam of England looks dejected following the team's defeat during the Six Nations Rugby match between England and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on February 04, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Lewis Ludlam admits it is “hard to not think about it” as the selection waiting game for England’s World Cup hopefuls nears its conclusion.

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England head coach Steve Borthwick will name his 33-strong World Cup squad on Monday morning.

It follows an opening tournament warm-up performance against Wales that badly misfired, with some World Cup prospects undoubtedly falling by the wayside as Warren Gatland’s team triumphed 20-9 in Cardiff.

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Northampton captain Ludlam’s performance was among the few highlights, delivering a trademark display that bristled with intent and purpose, while an ability to cover all three back-row positions makes him a priceless asset for Borthwick.

“I tried my hardest and that is all you can ask for,” said Ludlam, who made England’s final World Cup cut for Japan four years ago.

“It has been brilliant, the amount of competition we’ve had in the back-row over the past six weeks.

“We have learnt a lot from each other and there has been some healthy competition as well.

“It’s a tough decision to make. Like I say, the competition is so good and that has been a real positive this campaign.

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“It has really pushed us all on and you can’t be too comfortable in this environment with so many good back-rowers coming through.

“It (World Cup selection) might be at the back of a lot of people’s minds, it is hard to not think about it.”

The squad will be unveiled with three World Cup warm-up Tests left as England host Wales next week, then travel to Ireland before entertaining Fiji.

Borthwick’s decision to go early at least guarantees an end to selection speculation that would have accompanied his players throughout the August schedule.

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“I guess knowing early is good with the security and then you know what you are doing,” Ludlam added.

“But then again, on the other hand, pressure is a good thing and brings the best out of some people as well. So I expect it will be different for different people.

“Pulling on the jersey any time, whatever the occasion, is special. Not many people have the honour of playing for their country.

“The World Cup is just that extra bit special. It would be a dream for a lot of lads. Those who do go will be looking forward to it and relishing that challenge.”

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finn 9 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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