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Ulster's wing Louis Ludik is all fired up and raring to go

By Jonathan Bradley

Despite the fact he and his wife Chamé are busy preparing for the arrival of their first child, Ulster's Louis Ludik still managed to find some time to relax during the team's two-week break. Having appeared in eight of the nine games this season - missing only the defeat to Zebre in Parma - the summer signing was heavily used during the season's first block of games and therefore appreciated the chance for a rest afforded by the autumn internationals

The back three player, who starts on the wing against the table-topping Ospreys tonight, is now fully recharged ahead of a crucial stretch of games and said: "It was good to get the break, just to psychologically get away from it for a week or so.

"It was good to get the feet up and to relax a bit so that we're ready for this next part of the season."

While some of his team-mates took the opportunity for a brief holiday, Ludik and his wife, given their impending arrival, have not strayed too far outside Belfast of late but the South African did enjoy a trip to Dublin to provide Aviva Fan Studio punditry for the Springboks' clash with Ireland.

Despite the result, he did not receive too much taunting from his Ulster team-mates and was glad to catch up with some familiar faces from home.

With the likes of Tendai Mtawarira, the Du Plesis brothers, JP Pietersen and Cobus Reinach representing the visitors, the former Shark had plenty of former colleagues in action.

"We saw some of the guys afterwards in the President's suite and it was good to see some of the old friends and have a small reunion," said the 28-year-old.

"It was my first time at the (Aviva) Stadium and the atmosphere was really great.

"We had a friend over with us as well so it was a nice time."

Now back to the day job, his focus has switched to tonight's visit from the Pro12's only undefeated team.

"It'll be very tough, they're playing with a lot of confidence and rightfully so," warned the man who spent last season with Agen.

"They've done so well and they're playing brilliantly. It's always tough, though, and we're just going to have to do our best."

Ludik is part of a backline this evening that has been boosted by the considerable talents of Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy and Stuart Olding, after the trio were deemed surplus to requirements by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Ludik has, however, enjoyed running with some of the less experienced players in training this week.

"What's nice about younger guys is that they're very enthusiastic so they'll throw the ball around and try things," enthused the affable two-time Currie Cup winner.

"They've got something to prove and they want to break into the first team so that also makes it exciting. It can be a lift for the senior guys too, so that's a nice thing.

"There is so much talent coming through that all the younger guys are great players too.

"Obviously it's great to play with Tommy (Bowe) and the senior guys, they're awesome players, so it's great both ways."

Following the meeting with the Opsreys, Ludik will get his first taste of an inter-provincial rivalry when Ulster visit Munster next week and it is a trip that he has been anticipating for some time.

"You always hear about those games and Munster have been a brilliant team for years and years now.

"They've got a massive reputation and it'll be my first game there.

"If I'm able to play then I'm going to love it and I'm really looking forward to that one."

First things first, however, and a strong performance tonight from Ludik and his team-mates could even see them end the day on top of the PRO 12 table.

Belfast Telegraph


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