'Ludicrous' to suggest Saints players aren't giving their all, says Ludlam
Lewis Ludlam insists it is 'ludicrous' and 'complete b*****s' to suggest the Saints players are giving any less than 100 per cent during a trying time at Franklin's Gardens.
Some supporters on social media have questioned their team's desire, particularly after Sunday's 28-24 defeat at Leicester Tigers.
Saints have lost 10 of their past 12 games, slipping to seventh in the Gallagher Premiership standings.
But impassioned flanker Ludlam insists the fact wins are not coming is not for a lack of trying.
And ahead of Sunday's Champions Cup quarter-final at Exeter Chiefs, he said: "To even suggest we're not putting it in and we don't care is complete b******s to be honest.
"We're grafting, we're working hard and yes you can probably see we're a team that's low on confidence but to imply that any member of that squad isn't hurting and really feeling the performances is ludicrous.
"All you've got to do is walk into the changing room at the moment and post-game it's not a happy place to be.
"In training, we're pushing ourselves and demanding standards more than ever and it's not a comfortable place to be.
"Nobody is sitting back and rolling over and not caring about the club anymore.
"We're emotional and we've got to pick ourselves up this week and go again because as a sportsman you don't get many chances to play in these knockout games.
"It's something I'm really excited for."
So what does Ludlam feel has been going wrong for Saints, who sat second in the standings after 10 games but who have now fallen out of top-four contention?
"I don't think it's an effort thing at all," said the England back row forward.
"We're probably trying a bit too hard at times to move the ball and we're lacking a little bit of composure and smarts about us.
"We've probably gone away from those key parts of the game that allow us to play the expansive rugby.
"We're trying to play that expansive rugby without doing those little basic things.
"The focus for us now is to go back, really strip it back down to basics, go back to what we're good at and that should allow us to play the game we want to play.
"The real struggle now is after a few losses historically teams go within themselves, they don't want to play rugby and they stop doing the things they're good at and stop backing themselves.
"For us, it's about trying to stay as positive as possible yet bringing those basics back into our game that we've been missing in the past few weeks certainly."
Saints have been shorn of experienced players as Alex Waller and Tom Wood in recent times.
But Ludlam, who has captained the black, green and gold on occasion recently, insists there is still an abundance of leaders in the group.
"There's plenty of leadership," he said.
"I don't think we're as vocal as we have been, probably because of the way people lead.
"But you look at who's been playing in terms of Teimana Harrison, David Ribbans, and I could name five or six boys who lead by example on the pitch and put their head in places people aren't.
"People follow that and although we're missing a lot of characters, I don't think we're lacking leadership on the pitch.
"There's plenty of experience and leadership is not an excuse for why results haven't been going our way."