Jim Mallinder has hailed Mike Haywood’s ‘outstanding’ contribution to the Saints cause.
Haywood was thrust into the action after just 17 minutes last weekend, following the dismissal of skipper Dylan Hartley.
And the 23-year-old, who already has 89 Northampton appearances to his name, performed superbly, helping Saints to a stunning 23-19 Aviva Premiership victory against Leicester Tigers.
Haywood has played a key role in some of his club’s biggest victories, starting both the Amlin Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership final successes back in May.
And he will be eager to continue making a big impression during the Christmas and new year period, with Hartley banned for three weeks for elbowing Leicester centre Matt Smith.
“He’s been outstanding cover for us has Mike,” said Saints boss Mallinder.
“Not only is he good in the set piece, he gets his scrum and lineout right, but he’s everywhere.
“He picks and goes, he passes from nine, he appears in the wide channels, he put in a tremendous performance last Saturday.”