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Louis Ludik is relaxed over unclear Ulster future

By Michael Sadlier

We're well up and running with Ludik when two pressing issues are put to him which require some deft footwork on the South African's part.

The first is the thorny issue of this being the last year of his Ulster contract and, with Charles Piutau coming to these shores, whether there will be room made for Ludik in what might be a clear-out of the three non-Irish qualified players currently in their final year.

"It's always in the back of your mind," the recently turned 29-year-old who joined Ulster in summer 2014 said with a smile.

"You want to impress and play well, but I've learned in my career that anything can happen.

"So I'll just play my game, otherwise you'll put too much pressure on yourself.

"I just train as hard as I can and hopefully it will translate onto the field."

So that's one issue out of the way, and the other? Playing at Edinburgh's mostly deserted Murrayfield is surely not something to savour for any player.

Again comes the smile, except this time with accompanying laughter. "It's tough, but no, it's good," he said.

Ludik remembers playing at Murrayfield the last time the sides met competitively which was back in February when 13-man Ulster - with Stuart McCloskey red-carded and Franco van der Merwe binned - managed to escape with a 20-17 win.

"Our discipline was horrible," Ludik recalled ahead of tomorrow night's meeting with the Scots, who have impressively won three from three this season and are sitting in second.

"Fortunately for us they missed a lot of kicks at goal so we know we have to be clinical."

And the player who can comfortably function at either full-back, wing or centre brought up last month's defeat in Wales. He said: "At the Scarlets our discipline was also horrible so that's a key point to focus on."

Which leads into a discussion about why currently fifth-placed Ulster can look so off-colour away from home with the dismal efforts at the Scarlets this season placed alongside those other horror shows from the last PRO12 campaign at Zebre and the Dragons.

"It's just a mental thing," Ludik said. "But we're travelling (to Edinburgh) on the day so at least you are sleeping in your own bed and I think that makes it a bit easier.

"We just have to be mentally there. To be mentally ready is the most important thing.

"It's so important for us to not only play well this week but be mentally alert when we're playing away."

Ulster were boosted yesterday by the news that Ludik's back-three colleague Craig Gilroy has signed a two-year contract extension.

The winger, who was the province's top try scorer last season, will now remain at the Kingspan Stadium until at least the summer of 2018.

The 24-year-old has already amassed over 100 appearances for Ulster while he has won six Ireland caps since his debut in 2012.

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