LEWIS LUDLAM pieced together a highlights showreel as he thought he would be dumped by Northampton just 12 months ago.
The England rookie has since booked a dream ticket to the World Cup in Japan — and will never struggle to find a job again if they win it.
Not so long ago the flanker, 23, even thought about jacking it all in while having serious thoughts about life in the real world.
After a crazy summer, the one-cap wonder revealed: “I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do other than play rugby.
“Part of last year was trying to play my way into a good highlights reel to get a gig at not such a big club as Northampton or potentially abroad. I was always thinking about other options.
“This time last year was like almost one last shot at it for me, trying to fight for another contract.
“I didn’t even know if I would get a contract and I had one year left. I hadn’t played more than a handful of games since my Junior World Cup.
“You see a lot of stuff on social media: ‘Where’s Ludlam? What’s he doing?’. It drives you on — you use it as energy and motivation to really kick on.
“Reading that sort of stuff made me want to prove people wrong and I’m just happy I got the opportunity to do that.
"There were times when I didn’t believe that I would really kick on and make it. So this has been a bizarre seven weeks, to be honest.
“I wasn’t really expecting to be called in to camp, so I was taking each week as it comes. So to get my cap on Sunday was just an unbelievable experience.”
Even when he was added to a WhatsApp group confirming he was in the squad to face Wales on Saturday, and off to Bristol for Monday’s team announcement, he still had to do a double-take.
It was just on a WhatsApp group. I said to one of the other lads, ‘Are you sure? Is this the squad?'
The down-to-earth star revealed that there was no big reveal or anything like that for the 31 lucky lads.
He said: “It was just on a WhatsApp group. I said to one of the other lads, ‘Are you sure? Is this the squad?’
“They said, ‘Yeah, that’s it’. The next thing you know, you’ve got lads shaking your hand saying, ‘Congratulations!’. Bizarre couple of weeks… ”
Ludlam is also part of England’s United Nations of stars, with roots from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Nigeria, Grenada and New Zealand among others.
His dad, Arron, is of Palestinian and Egyptian origin, while mum Dorinda comes from a Guyanese background.
Though on his debut, Ludlam, who has lived here all his life, sang his heart out for his country during the national anthem at Twickenham and became a hit on social media again — this time for good reasons.
And he added: “I’m not naturally very emotional. I like to get myself worked up before a game and play off that emotion but not ever like that.
“Seeing my dad in the crowd while singing the anthems gave me goosebumps, gave that extra little bit of something.
“I wanted to sing it that little bit louder, too.”
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