Ulster’s Ludik wants the focus to return to rugby

The off-field controversies and the unfolding daily ramifications must be extremely difficult to deal with for Ulster utility back Louis Ludik, who has a deep Christian faith.

The Ireland-qualified South African admits the furore around the Belfast rape trial is in your face daily, but insists the team want to get back to playing rugby and earn that Champions Cup qualification slot, starting with a victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield tomorrow night.

“Obviously, we’re aware of it,” said the 31-year-old former Sharks player.

“It’s impossible not to be aware of it, we have to be focused on the rugby itself. We hear people talk about it, everyone has a different opinion, that’s just how it is.

“But all we can do is focus on rugby, sometimes that’s easy, sometimes that’s difficult, but that’s what we are paid to do.”

Ludik knows losing is not an option if hopes of staying at the European top table are to be realised.

At the end of the day, it’s still in our hands, but we have to take it. Obviously, we’d like to be there as it’s such an amazing competition. It was entertaining last weekend and a couple of teams played out of their skins.

Ludik has a BSc in Sports and Conditioning, and has future coaching plans. For now, he hopes Ulster’s renowned ability to turn it on in the face of adversity will come to the fore.

“Sometimes when our backs are against the wall, when we’ve no other choice, that’s when we play our best. Our minds have to go to that place where we play as best we can. 

"Murrayfield is a big empty stadium, not like a packed Kingspan with its nice atmosphere. We’re going to go out there and really be focused on our game and really take it to them.

“Sometimes when a person is really under pressure, they perform. Maybe, it’s how the human brain works, when you’re really under the pump. For us, every week is a final now. Whoever gets the opportunity to go out and play has to take that opportunity and do their best.

“Personally, after 12 years, I’ve had my fair share of pressure, it’s part of rugby. I enjoy it, that’s why you play professional rugby. It’d be nice to win every weekend and be pressure free. If the ball doesn’t bounce our way, there’s nothing we can do about that.”

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