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'Shocked' Ludlow's reaction to getting England A captaincy ahead of Genge and co

By Liam Heagney

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Gloucester back-rower Lewis Ludlow has described his shock when Eddie Jones asked him – and not Ellis Genge – to skipper the England A team in this Sunday’s match versus Scotland A in Leicester. The 26-year-old was one of 23 uncapped players included in the squad for this week’s summer series opener which will be followed by Test matches versus the USA and Canada.

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There had been initial talk that Kyle Sinckler was a prime candidate to skipper England during this period and that speculation shifted onto Genge after English tighthead Sinckler was recently called up to the Lions following the tour-ending injury to Andrew Porter.

However, there was a surprise on Friday when it emerged that Genge had to settle for the vice-captaincy this weekend with Ludlow taking on the captaincy of an England XV consisting of eleven uncapped players, five of them who will now be considered officially captured by Jones as Ludlow, Dan Kelly, Harry Randall, Jacob Umaga and Joe Heyes were all eligible for rival countries until now.

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“I was definitely shocked,” said the Gloucester forward about the honour that has been bestowed on him a couple of months before his 27th birthday. “Eddie rang me a few weeks ago before the initial camp to say he was thinking about putting me in the leadership group, which in itself was a massive shock having only started captaining Gloucester this year.

“When he asked me to captain the side this weekend, it was just disbelief. There are a lot more people there with caps and stuff but it’s been a good week’s training. I have grown into the leadership role this week and I was just super excited when he said I had the opportunity to start, let alone captain the side as well.

“The players were really positive, a few of the lads in the leadership group I have worked with before so that was great, we know how each other operates. We have got a really good mix in there to drive this team forward on the weekend,” he continued, going on to reflect on his experiences this past season as a rookie captain at Gloucester. “It wasn’t the easiest start. We had a few ups and downs, on-field and off-field issues. It brought out the best in me to be fair. You faced a lot of situations that in some seasons you may never face or in your career as captain you may never face. Getting through those so early on really helped me grow.

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“The coaches at Gloucester really backed me in terms of how I wanted to do it, same with the players. They have been unbelievable and the buy-in towards my captaincy has gone really well. Hopefully, that will show going forward towards me being captain this weekend.

“I would like to say I definitely lead from the front. I wouldn’t expect anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. I’m probably better now in my career than when I was younger with level-headedness when a message needs to be said. I’d like to think I can get the right message across.”

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'Shocked' Ludlow's reaction to getting England A captaincy ahead of Genge and co

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