sport news Lewis Ludlam nearly swapped rugby for a job in finance 12 months before World ...

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Stored away in the corner of the living room, among the collection of vinyl records and skateboards, is Lewis Ludlam's England kitbag.

Barely a week has passed since he returned from the World Cup final in Japan but he has already packed his bag for the Six Nations.

'It's staying there 'til February,' he explains. 'Something to look at. Something to aim for.'

Lewis Ludlam has reflected on a whirlwind 12 months after returning home after the World Cup

Lewis Ludlam has reflected on a whirlwind 12 months after returning home after the World Cup

Ludlam has revealed he came close to becoming a financial advisor just over a year ago

Ludlam has revealed he came close to becoming a financial advisor just over a year ago

The runners up medal, however, is with his father, Arron, in Ipswich.

'I gave the medal to my dad,' he adds. 'It's there, I'm proud of it, but it reminds me there's still something to achieve.'

Returning to the grey, wet terraced streets of Northampton was not quite the homecoming Ludlam had dreamed about. No victory parade around the streets of London. No trophy. Instead, his first day back on home soil was spent repairing a broken boiler.

'Coming back to normal life was a bit of a shock to the system,' he says, speaking over a cup of tea in the home he moved into eight months ago. 'We didn't have any hot water because the boiler had packed in and my car lease had expired so I had to get taxis everywhere.

The 23-year-old is now desperate to build on World Cup and become an England regular

The 23-year-old is now desperate to build on World Cup and become an England regular

Ludlam's first job after the World Cup was to fix a broken boiler at his Northampton home

Ludlam's first job after the World Cup was to fix a broken boiler at his Northampton home

'Funnily enough, this one taxi driver was like "So, did you watch the World Cup?" I was like "Yeah, yeah, they did alright, didn't they!" It was funny but as tough as it was to lose in the final, it was cool just to hear normal people talking about rugby.'

Many people in the rugby world are still unfamiliar with 23-year-old Ludlam's face. He was Eddie Jones' wildcard selection and simply being called up is still sinking in — let alone the notion of losing to South Africa in the final.

In the summer of 2018, his rugby career was at a crossroads. Finding a contract was a struggle and he sat down with his father to discuss the prospect of becoming a financial advisor. He is a rounded individual, with an interest in music and painting, and swerved an office career in style as he boarded the flight to Japan in September.

'It's been a whirlwind of a year,' he says. 'I sat down with my dad last season and he said 'You'd better start getting prepared for life after rugby'. I was doing some art on the sides — these abstract skulls (showing an image on his iPhone) — but that was never going to make me a whole lot of money.

'I had some meetings about the finance thing and my plan was to save a bit of cash and then travel around the world. Things changed when Chris Boyd came to Northampton. He gave me the confidence to rip in. Then Teimana Harrison's missus went into labour during the England Saxons week in June and I got called in to cover him — while I was on a train to London for a team social!

'That week was the first time I'd met Eddie. He just said, "Keep yourself fit and keep working hard". I didn't play in the BaaBaas game and never really expected anything to come of it.

Ludlam sat down with his dad to discuss his future in 2018 after struggling to get a contract

Ludlam sat down with his dad to discuss his future in 2018 after struggling to get a contract

He was on his way to a social event when he found out that he'd been called up by England

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