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What the England captaincy has done for Ludlow back at Gloucester

By Liam Heagney

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Gloucester have described Lewis Ludlow as being more confident at the club since his return from the England summer series where he skippered Eddie Jones’ side to victories over the USA and Canada. Uncapped heading the Test matches, the 27-year-old became only the fifth player to ever captain England on debut, the back-rower following in the footsteps of Fred Stokes (1871), Fred Alderson (1892), Joe Mycock (1947) and Nigel Melville (1984).

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His emergence had a kicker, though, Ludlow cited for a collision in the Canada match and receiving a three-match ban. However, he was back in harness at Gloucester when their new Premiership campaign opened last weekend at Northampton and he will again be calling the shots on Friday night when Leicester visit Kingsholm. 

But what has the England captaincy in the absence of the Lions-touring Owen Farrell done for Ludlow? It was a question put to Gloucester boss George Skivington at his media briefing ahead of his team’s clash with the Tigers and he explained the hard work the club put into the player to make him captaincy material in the first place. 

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Jack Nowell guests on the latest episode of RugbyPass Offload
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“I wouldn’t say he has been any different,” Skivington began. “He was on a really good path anyway. He would put his hand up and say he was quite raw at the beginning of last season when he was given the (club) captaincy but he was given that for what he does on the field and the way he conducts himself.

“Slowly over the year, he grasped different bits and pieces of being a leader and we put lots of work into that and he now knows who his generals are around him who can help him and support him. He adapted really quickly and he has the full respect of everyone here so that helps and Eddie Jones identified that. 

“From my conversations with the England camp, Lewis was brilliant while he was there and they thought his leadership was outstanding. He has come back even more confident and probably more in a place where he can fully back the fact that it is not just Gloucester who see him as a leader, it’s England and I have no doubt he got the full respect of everyone who was in that England camp as well.”

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Along with the long-serving Jonny May and the uncapped Mark Atkinson, Ludlow was one of three Gloucester players included in the 45-man England squad that will attend a mini-training camp from Sunday. May’s inclusion was no surprise but Skivington still felt it deserving of kudos given his man is bouncing back from Lions omission and greater competition in the wider channels.

“I haven’t talked to Jonny about it, just a ‘well done’. Jonny tends to take things in his stride, he is a confident bloke, he knows what his strengths and weaknesses are. I think it’s a feather in his cap because there has been a lot of talk about these young guys coming through and all the rest of it.”

Skivington added that Lions picks Chris Harris and Louis Rees-Zammit are now back in training at the club following their post-tour break. “They are back training and we have just got to work out how we look after them the best and also look after the team best.”

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What the England captaincy has done for Ludlow back at Gloucester

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