Phil Dowson, the rugby director of Northampton Saints, has expressed the club’s fervent desire to retain the services of their captain, Lewis Ludlam, amidst strong speculations linking him to a potential move abroad.
Currently sidelined due to injury, Ludlam has reportedly caught the attention of Top 14 club Toulon, fuelling concerns of an exodus of English players to foreign leagues.
The lure of Toulon has already seen Ludlam’s former Saints teammate, David Ribbans, make the move to the French club.
This trend extends to other English players, with Joe Marchant at Stade Francais, Jack Willis playing for Toulouse, and Henry Arundell joining Racing 92 after the World Cup.
The Rugby Football Union’s existing rules dictate that players competing outside England are ineligible for international selection, adding a layer of complexity to such moves.
Phil Dowson, speaking to BBC Radio Northampton, emphasised the club’s eagerness to keep Ludlam, acknowledging the reports surrounding the captain’s potential departure.
Dowson highlighted Ludlam’s significant value to the club, considering his back-row versatility and extensive experience, having featured in the last two World Cups.
Dowson assured fans that Northampton are actively working on a compelling offer to persuade Ludlam to remain as the team’s captain.
“We’re desperate to keep him,” Dowson said.
“I’ve seen the reports and it is no surprise to me that Lewis is a very sought-after man.
“We are trying to put an offer together that is compelling, and we will try and keep him here as our captain.” He concluded.
The prospect of losing Ludlam would undoubtedly be a blow to England boss Steve Borthwick, particularly given the player’s ability to cover multiple positions in the back row.
Ludlam’s potential move to France could have repercussions for England’s options, especially with Tom Curry sidelined due to a season-ending hip injury and Ben Earl of Saracens facing a knee problem.
As Ludlam navigates his recovery and contemplates potential offers, the Northampton Saints and their supporters await the resolution of this pivotal negotiation, hoping to secure the continued leadership and on-field contributions of their captain.
The outcome could significantly shape both Ludlam’s future and England’s back-row dynamics in the upcoming seasons.