Jim Mallinder says Dylan Hartley is still the last one off the training field as the suspended Saints hooker bids to ‘drive the team’ out of its current malaise.
Hartley is currently serving the second week of a six-week ban, having been punished for a dangerous high tackle on Leinster’s Sean O’Brien in a recent Champions Cup clash at Franklin’s Gardens.
The England captain, who led his country to 13 wins from as many matches during 2016, had only played six minutes of his club return before seeing red.
But though he will not be able to play his part on the field until his ban ends on January 23, the 30-year-old appears desperate to be involved off it.
And Mallinder said: “Dylan’s day to day, full on.
“He’s not gone anywhere. He’s been the last off the training field, helping our young hookers over the past couple of days, really trying to pass on some of his knowledge.
“He’s helping to drive the team. He can’t do it on the field, but off the field he’s one of our best leaders and he’s helping (Saints skipper) Tom Wood in that leadership.”
After Hartley’s sending off against Leinster, Saints went on to lose that game 37-10 and the return match in Dublin 60-13.
They currently sit bottom of Champions Cup Pool 4 and now return to Premiership action against Sale Sharks on Friday, languising in ninth in England’s top division.
And Mallinder has had conversations with Hartley about how he can continue to help Saints during his absence.
“We have a good relationship and we talk a lot,” the Saints boss said.
“I think Dylan understands where I come from with the club, and I understand where Dylan is.
“He’s accepted that he’s got to serve a few weeks out of the game and in that time he can help the club moving forward. That’s what he’s doing.”