Jim Mallinder has hailed the attitude of Courtney Lawes – after the England star shone for Saints last Saturday.
Lawes headed back to the England camp this week ahead of the Six Nations clash with Italy at Twickenham on Sunday.
And he has returned with his head held high after a commanding performance in Northampton’s 40-14 demolition of London Irish last weekend.
Lawes had received some criticism for his showing for the Red Rose against France a week earlier, but he made his point against Irish.
Saints boss Mallinder said: “He came back with a real determined attitude. He was a little bit frustrated in his performance (against France).
“He’s an honest and open guy is Courtney and he doesn’t hide away from the fact.
“I think you saw that in his performance on Saturday.
“Some of his work rate and his physicality is immense.”
Lawes’ fellow England international Ben Foden also looked sharp for Saints last weekend as he tried to stake his claim for a first Six Nations start.
And Mallinder feels the full-back is improving all the time as he aims to get back to his best following ankle surgery earlier this season.
“He’s definitely getting there is Ben,” said Mallinder. “He was looking lively on Saturday.
“He does like it when the pitches get a bit harder and he knows he’s got to play well regularly to get back into the (England) side.
“There’s certainly competition in that back three.
“They’re all playing well, so he knows what he’s got to do, but he’s definitely capable of doing it.”