Ludlam and Borthwick speak about ‘brilliant’ Genge ahead of Test captaincy debut

Ellis Genge will captain England for the first time this Saturday at Twickenham Stadium
©David Howlett

In England’s live press conference broadcast on YouTube, Steve Borthwick described his captain for this weekend’s clash with France as a “fantastic leader”, while Lewis Ludlam called his international teammate “brilliant”.

Ludlam and Genge have got to know each other well over the years. First going toe-to-toe with one another as teenagers, over the years their relationship has grown and now sees the pair take to the field as international teammates.

With Owen Farrell dropped to the bench as Marcus Smith is preferred as the starting fly-half, it means that Bristol Bears’ Genge will lead the team from the off.

 Named as a vice-captain ahead of this Guinness Six Nations, the 28-year-old was England head coach Steve Borthwick’s captain at Leicester Tigers, the duo contributing to the East Midlands club winning the Gallagher Premiership last season.

“Oh he’s brilliant,” Ludlam said. “He’s brilliant. I think he plays with his heart on his sleeve, I think when he talks it is convincing, people can get behind him, he is someone you want to battle for, someone you want to fight for.

“I remember playing against Gengey when we were 14 years old, and he is not somebody you want to play against either. He always puts his body on the line, and he’s a good mate of mine, so the opportunity to follow him into battle this weekend is something I am looking forward to.”

And how has Genge changed over the last 14 years or so?

“He has definitely got control of his emotions way, way better,” Ludlam grinned. “I remember him being a bit of a loose cannon, but I think the impressive thing is, he knows when to flick it on and when to flick it off.

“You see him when he is carrying the ball, he has got that horrible doggedness inside of him and it is emotional, and he brings it out of himself. 

“In between gaps in the game, his ability to bring himself down and speak and get his messages across is something I think has been really impressive over the last three years especially.”

It is fair to say that Genge has certainly been on a journey throughout his career. Joining Leicester Tigers under something of a cloud from Bristol in 2016, it quickly became apparent that the prop was a talent and was called into the England set-up by Eddie Jones after just one start for Tigers.

A devastating ball-carrier, while at Leicester his scrummaging went to new levels and the Test caps would keep coming, and after the 2021 summer Test matches was name as Leicester’s captain for the 2021/22 season by Borthwick and became his country’s number one loosehead prop.

It was not a surprise when Borthwick confirmed that Genge would be a vice-captain, Borthwick heaping praise onto his captain shortly after announcing his squad to take on Wales.

“We all know what an incredible, world-class player he is,” Borthwick said. “I just see how much the players want to follow a guy like that.

“He has an incredible ability to connect with anyone in the squad, from any background, whatever age they are, wherever they’re from, he has an ability to connect with them.

“He has been a tremendous vice-captain and I do see the leaders as a team. Now he is leading the side and I’m delighted for him.”

That ability to relate to anyone is something that Ludlam has seen first-hand. It is something which the 27-year-old sees as beneficial to this current group now as they have begun their journey under new leadership.

“It’s subtle, in how he speaks to you,” Ludlam said. “He knows which buttons to press to get the best out of you, and that could be five minutes before kick-off, two or three days before a game, on a Monday or after a game.

“He knows how to get the best out of people. You’re seeing that in the way that Ollie Chessum is playing at the moment. 

“He’s been fantastic for us. He knows how he ticks; he’s had the opportunity to work with him for a couple of years now and knows how to get the best out of him.”

England XV

Freddie Steward; Max Malins, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Anthony Watson; Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge (C), Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis & Alex Dombrandt


Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, David Ribbans, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Owen Farrell & Henry Arundell