Lee Dickson says he will relish the challenge new signing Nic Groom will provide for the Saints No.9 shirt next season.
And the club captain is up for the fight, stressing his desire to be Northampton’s first-choice scrum-half.
Groom signed on at Saints from Super Rugby side the Stormers earlier this week and will replace the departing Kahn Fotuali’i, whose contract is up this summer.
The 26-year-old South African will add extra competition at Saints, who will also be able to call on Dickson and Tom Kessell.
“I’ve watched him (Groom) a few times, just from watching Super Rugby because I quite enjoy watching it,” Dickson said.
“He’s a lively player and again it’s someone coming in, like Kahn did (in 2013), and I like challenges.
“I want to play, I want to be number one, he’ll want to be number one, we’ll have a good battle and I’ll make sure I’ll do everything in my powers because I still have big ambitions at this club and England.
“Hopefully he’ll bring the best out of me and I’ll work hard and I’ll train hard as I always do.”
Dickson started the season slowly, but sprang into life during the Six Nations, scoring six tries in as many games.
He remains Saints’ top try scorer and the 31-year-old insists he will be pushing to be even better next season.
“You can’t think ‘I’ve got a reputation and I’m going to be starting’ because we saw this year I wasn’t playing the best at the start of the season,” Dickson said.
“Jim (Mallinder) sat me down, Kess starts, gives me a kick up the backside and I think I came out the other side playing my best rugby for six or seven weeks.
“You can’t be comfortable, you can’t be anything like that and I’m not one to be like that.
“Everyone needs a kick up the backside and this season has been that a little bit for me and I’ve got to make sure I come back fighting again next year.”
But Dickson knows he and his team-mates have one more job to do this season.
They must win at Gloucester on Saturday to guarantee a top-six finish and Champions Cup rugby next season.
And the captain said: “It’s a must-win game. We want to finish in the top six, we want to be in Europe because this club doesn’t deserve not to be in Europe.
“We’ve got to make sure when we go down there to do a job and they’ve got a lot to play for – they can still get seventh and they can still be in Europe if Quins do the job for them (in the Challenge Cup final).
“They’re at home, so it’s going to be an interesting game but we’re really looking forward to it. Hopefully the sun will be out and we can play some good rugby.
“We’ve got to go down there and make we come away with the win.”