Both players arrived at Saints in the summer, having previously linked up during their time at Munster.
And the pair have looked sharp during pre-season with Hanrahan one of the stand-out arrivals and Howard scoring in last Friday’s win over Worcester Warriors.
South African centre Howard will be competing for the 13 shirt, while Hanrahan is ready to rival Stephen Myler for the fly-half role.
And though that will be a big challenge for the 23-year-old Irishman, he has the talent to do it, according to the man who knows him well.
“I knew JJ from 2012 when he came down with Ireland Under-20s for the World Cup in South Africa and obviously I played with him at Munster as well,” Howard said.
“He’s a good lad, he runs the show nicely, I know how he plays and it’s good to be around him.
“He definitely will (be a big player for Saints this season).
“You can’t have Stephen Myler playing game in, game out - you need to have rotation to keep fresh legs so JJ is going to be a very, very good option to have there.
“He likes to attack the line, a very confident guy, a very demanding guy so he will bring a lot to the team.”
Hanrahan has kicked well from hand and tee in the friendly wins against Saracens, Wasps and Worcester.
And he has also displayed a strong running game, making sharp breaks that have carried Saints forward.
“He’s oozing with confidence,” added Howard.
“He’s been waiting for his chance. At Munster he was forced to play a bit of 12 and play behind Ian Keatley and even play a bit of full-back, which wasn’t ideal for him.
“This move is going to be very good for him, to have the chance to play in the position he wants to and show what he can do.”
As for Howard, who will hope to be involved in the opening game of the Aviva Premiership season, at Worcester on Friday night, he is settling in nicely at Franklin’s Gardens.
And the 23-year-old said: “I played in the first two (pre-season) games and only got about 25 minutes off the bench in both so I didn’t get the chance to do my share.
“It was nice to get more time against Worcester and it was my first proper game in about three months so it was good to get out there and stretch my legs.
“I’m very, very excited about the start of the season.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for months.
“I got contracted in February, I got here in July and I’ve been ready to go since then.”