After battling injury for most of last year, Louis Ludik isn’t prepared to give up his place in the Ulster back line any time soon.
But the uncapped South African knows he faces a hefty battle for the jersey with a dozen international players all vying for a place in Les Kiss’ starting back line.
After a seven-month absence from the pitch through a groin injury, Ludik has returned in fine form, scoring the Ulstermen’s opening try in their 19-8 victory over the Scarlets on Friday night at the Kingspan.
And the 29-year-old is only too aware that further eye-catching performances are needed if his name is to remain on the teamsheet.
“It’s very tough but I’m just grateful for any opportunity I get to play around these talents,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“It’s a privilege to play with them and I’m really enjoying it. When you get a chance, you try and get your hands on the ball as much as possible.
“Sometimes I’m so tired, but you have to keep going. I didn’t see too much ball in that second half (last week) but fortunately in the first half I had a few chances.”
Following his extensive time on the sidelines, Ludik made his return to the field in August, but feared he would be making an early return to the physio room after picking up a hand injury in Ulster’s 29-19 friendly win over Northampton Saints.
But while he only missed one match, Ludik admits he is counting his blessings every time he steps onto the pitch.
“Especially with the competition, you want to play as much as you can,” he added. “Last year was so frustrating for me.
“I’m very happy to be injury-free and to be playing 80 minutes again. It’s nice when you play well but it’s almost better coming off the field injury-free.”
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