Lee Dickson knows this season will represent his toughest test since he arrived at Saints in 2008.
That is because this summer has seen the club add another top-class player to their scrum-half department, in the shape of Samoan star Kahn Fotuali’i.
Fotuali’i, one of European rugby’s hottest properties last season, has arrived at Northampton from Ospreys.
For England international Dickson, a player who has got used to being first choice No.9, there is now a real fight for the right to be in the starting 15.
But that is not something which fazes the 28-year-old, instead he is using it to drive him on to great things.
When asked if this is the biggest challenge he has faced in his Saints career, Dickson replied emphatically: “Without a shadow of a doubt. He is a world class nine and I need that.
“I love competition. I love the fact that I’ve got to get out every game and play 100 per cent. I did it last year, but now it really means something.
“For me he’s going to push me on to Saints honours and England as well. At the end of the day, if Saints play well fingers crossed I’ll be playing for England as well.”
Fotuali’i’s first interview with this publication saw him label Dickson a ‘funny bloke’, who he is relishing working alongside.
And there is clearly a mutual admiration among the scrum-halves, as Dickson said: “Kahn’s brilliant. He’s really helpful.
“I wouldn’t say I’m funny. He’s a very chilled out guy. Him and George (North) are very smiley.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with him and learning stuff off him because he is a world class player.
“He’s shown that in the past years and I’m hoping I can pick his brains and get some knowledge out of him.
“It’s great to have him around the club and he brings massive experience as well. It’s going to be a nice little battle.”
The dazzling No.9 duo will be aiming to deliver the first major trophy to Saints since 2000.
And Dickson, who was left devastated by Heineken Cup final heartbreak at the hands of Leinster in 2010 and also tasted Premiership final defeat in May, is desperate for some big silverware.
He said: “We’ve talked about it. We got to that final last year and we had a really good crack at it. We played exceptionally at the end of that season.
“Hopefully we can start the season like we did last year but hopefully in mid-season we won’t slack as much and we can really crack on.
“With the players we’ve brought in, it shows we will be able to do that this year, but the Premiership’s a tough league and we’ve got to make sure we’re on our game every week.
“These little games we’ve got to grind out and we’ve got to get on the right side of the scoreboard.
“Hopefully it will be our year. Pre-season’s been absolutely phenomenal this year, there’s a real big buzz at this club at the moment and hopefully this season it will happen for us.”