Stephen Myler admits it is nice not to have to look over his shoulder at Saints any more.
The fly-half, who made his 200th appearance in green, black and gold in the 33-14 win over Sale on Friday night, is now firmly first choice at Franklin’s Gardens.
Myler has made the No.10 shirt his own after years of battles against the likes of Shane Geraghty and Ryan Lamb.
And having signed a new contract at the club in February, he is now revelling in a role he has finally cemented.
“It’s always nice to have the backing of the coaches, but in the same breath Jim (Mallinder) has never hidden anything from me, Shane or Ryan when they were here,” said Myler, who joined Saints from Salford City Reds in 2006.
“Jim basically said whoever’s playing the best will have the shirt in the big games - that’s pretty simple.
“The task for any player being in that boat is being as prepared as you can be in that shirt. I feel like that’s helped me over the years.
“But, at the same time, it is nice to know that you’re not constantly looking over your shoulder.”
Myler led Saints out for the game against Sale, marking an impressive milestone in his career at the club.
And the 29-year-old, who made his England Test debut during the summer, admits it was a proud moment.
“It is a big achievement and it’s something I’m very proud of, but it’s not the thing you’re focused on the most,” he said.
“I wasn’t putting too much emphasis on it, I was more concerned about getting the right result to get us up the table, although it is a pleasing milestone to reach.
“It’s just something that happens, it’s like scoring points, scoring tries - these are the kind of things that happen if you’re playing well and contributing to the team effort.
“I’m obviously very happy I’m still here. The club’s been very good to me.
“It’s pleasing that I’m still here after all this time, this amount of games.
“My focus never changes, I just try to do my best, keep improving and I know I can help the team to prosper if I’m working hard and I try to get the best out of everyone around me.”