Alan Dickens says Saints will show full respect to a Sale Sharks side he feels are more disciplined this season.
Assistant coach Dickens, a former Sale scrum-half, has been impressed with his old club’s start to the new campaign.
Steve Diamond’s men have won two of their first three Aviva Premiership games, claiming a shock opening-day success at Gloucester and beating Wasps at Salford.
They did suffer a narrow home defeat to newly-promoted Newcastle, but Dickens knows the Sharks are not to be underestimated when they travel to Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
“If you look at Sale, they’ve started the same as us: they’ve won two from three,” said Dickens.
“They probably lost a game they expected to win and it will be a tough game. We’ll respect them on Friday here.
“Steve Diamond’s instilled a bit of discipline in them this year.
“The season before last they finished well and last season they struggled, but they’ve had a good start this year.”
Dickens is now part of a four-man Saints coaching team, which includes Jim Mallinder, Dorian West and attack coach Alex King.
King arrived at Northampton from Clermont Auvergne during the summer and Dickens has hailed the impact of the new man.
“It’s been really good, really positive,” said the man tasked with steering the Saints defence in the right direction. “Alex has come in with some good ideas from his time in France.
“The things Alex has been working on we’ll see come to the fore over the next few weeks and months, but he’s had a positive influence on the coaching staff as well as the players.”