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'Shock' as Ludlow becomes only 5th debut player to captain England

By Liam Heagney

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Lewis Ludlow has spoken about his shock at becoming only the fifth player in history to captain England on their debut, the Gloucester back-rower getting chosen this Sunday to follow in the footsteps of Fred Stokes (1871), Fred Alderson (1892), Joe Mycock (1947) and Nigel Melville (1984).

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Kyle Sinckler was the player initially speculated to become an England summer series skipper and Ellis Genge was then much talked about as a potential captain after his fellow prop was called up by the Lions. 

However, despite being the second most experienced player in the 37-strong England squad that assembled this week for Sunday’s Test match versus the USA at Twickenham, Genge had to settle for the vice-captaincy as Eddie Jones opted to allow Ludlow skipper the team even though he is one of eight uncapped players in the starting XV.  

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“There is a massive amount of pride, honour and privilege to be told that I am one of five people to have captained on their debut. It’s a complete shock to me and to be fair getting the captaincy was a complete shock to me but it is something that I am hugely proud of and will go out there and do my best,” enthused Ludlow.

“At Gloucester, leading from the front is the way that I go about my business. I wouldn’t ask anyone to do something if I wasn’t willing to do it myself and that has been similar in camp. A lot of young guys coming together, a lot of new guys, new faces. 

“As a leadership group we have tried to create a relaxed environment and when we are on the pitch we mean business. We have had a couple of really tough training sessions but boys have come out of it on the right side and have got stronger from it. That is something this group have grown really well over the last two, three weeks.”

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Not since 2013 as an England U18 has Ludlow played at an international level, but he has been sounding out 2003 World Cup winner Phil Vickery for tips on how best to lead at Test level. “I have spoken to Phil Vickery a few times over the last few weeks and during the season helping me to captain Gloucester as well. 

“He knew George Skivington and did a talk. There was a lot of chat with him about how to go about stuff and we went through a few things last week. It’s a huge thing for me representing Gloucester. That is what I care about most until you get to your national side and you are representing England. 

“It would be nice to have a few more Gloucester players. Guys like Jonny (May) have flown the flag for such a long time and Willi (Heinz) in the World Cup. What those guys brought back was just amazing and being able to learn from those guys, how to do things and how best to prepare yourself, has been invaluable. I will definitely be taking that into the game… The biggest thing he [Vickery] said to me was to enjoy it, just go out there and be yourself. I’m here because I am who I am. Go out and be yourself – and that is how the game tends to go best for you.”

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'Shock' as Ludlow becomes only 5th debut player to captain England

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