Skipper Hartley admits Saints still have a lot of improving to do

READY FOR A TESTING MONTH - Dylan Hartley, pictured in Saints' new cup competition kit, says he and his team-mates still have a lot of improving to do
READY FOR A TESTING MONTH - Dylan Hartley, pictured in Saints' new cup competition kit, says he and his team-mates still have a lot of improving to do
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Skipper Dylan Hartley says Saints are far from the finished article as they head into a massive month of games at home and abroad.

Hartley and Co face a titanic Aviva Premiership tussle with east midlands rivals Leicester Tigers on Saturday before heading into the heat of the Heineken Cup battle.

They go to Castres and host Ospreys in European competition before October concludes with a league game against Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens.

Saints will be full of confidence heading into that tricky sequence of games as they have won three of their four matches this season.

And Hartley said: “We’d have liked to have been four from four, but I think the manner in which we’ve played some of our games we can be confident.

“We weren’t quite on it at Gloucester and that was from our own doing.

“We’ve had a good couple of performances at home and to win at Quins was a real boost for us and it’s a good challenge to start October away at Leicester this week.

“You’re never going to be perfect come the end of pre-season and luckily we’ve been one of those teams on the right end of results and performing well.

“We’re in no way the finished article and this month is going to be an important one.”

But Hartley is keen to stress that Saints won’t be looking any further than Saturday’s showdown at Welford Road.

For the England hooker it will be a first meeting with Tigers since his sending off in Saints’ Premiership final defeat in May.

And he said: “We’ve got the two Heineken games coming up but Leicester is a huge individual challenge by itself.

“We’ve got to make sure our performances are right up there and look to break the month down week by week.

“Then we turn our focus to the Heineken Cup.

“That’s a different challenge and Castres away is no easy trip – they are Top 14 champions and we know them well.

“We have to try and look at each tournament separately though and we’ll not be thinking too much about the Heineken until it comes around.

“October will be a big challenge all round.”