There will be plenty of contenders at Saints alone but George Pisi is already looking like the Premiership signing of the season.
After an inauspicious start at full-back, the Samoan has been sensational since slotting into his prefered outside centre position.
His pace, dancing feet and silky skills have added an extra attacking dimension to the Saints attack.
Saints have been accused of being one-dimensional in the past, reyling too much on James Downey’s hard-running up the centre.
But that is no longer the case with Pisi around. The 25-year-old has been a thorn for defences since making his first start at 13 against Saracens.
Running with the ball in both hands, Pisi opens holes and has a great offload while in defence he makes his tackles and is superb over the ball.
Signed from Clermont Auvergne after moving to France from New Zealand, where he played for North Harbour and Taranaki and played Super rugby for Auckland Blues, Pisi was at it again at Newcastle.
The opening try came from a lovely weighted grubber kick from Pisi as he revealed another string to his bow. Against Newcastle’s rush defence Saints had Pisi and Ryan Lamb who could pick it apart.
Mallinder said: “George is a very clever rugby player. He is very creative, not only does he do his bits and pieces well in terms of tackle and contact work, but he is also a threat with ball in hand, running and his kicking game.
“Ryan is very good at finding those opportunities and George is another one who is dangerous with the ball in hand, but can also use his kicking game well.”
Another centre to make an impact at Kingston Park was Tom May, scoring the all-important fourth try. And the signing of Pisi and May has allowed Mallinder to rotate his centres.
James Downey and Jon Clarke have been a permanent fixture in the centres in recent seasons. Both made 32 appearances last campaign and were part of a Saints side that fatally ran out of gas in the home stretch at the Millennium Stadium.
The introduction of Pisi has also helped Saints to play a wider game this season. They still have their power game but Mallinder wants his side to have threats all over the park, and Pisi agrees with a philosophy that encourages the players to play what they see in front of them.
Pisi said: “It is about keeping them honest and varying up our attack. That is what we are all about and asking the opposition whether we are going to kick or run it. It is good for us.”
Pisi has played alongside Downey and May, two very different players and he enjoys working with both of them.
“They are different players,” said Pisi. “But they are both quality players and bring different things to the game.You have just got to adapt to them and work on being their support player for them or working together as a pair.”