Tom Vickers’ Saints v Ospreys preview: More to come from Mallinder’s men

NOT YET AT HIS BEST - Kahn Fotuali'i
NOT YET AT HIS BEST - Kahn Fotuali'i

After the recent east midlands derby at Welford Road - Leicester coach Paul Burke made a comment that irked Saints.

And it was one that will need to be proved incorrect if Jim Mallinder’s men are to stay on the right track this season.

Burke, who had seen Tigers come back from 10 points down to draw 19-19, said: “While Northampton have a couple of players out and may not play any better, we know, once we are back to full strength, we can.”

But that performance at Tigers cannot be Saints’ peak.

It cannot be the ceiling of their achievements during the current campaign.

Because if the past two weeks have shown anything, they have shown Northampton can get better.

The games at Tigers and Castres have actually been the antithesis of Burke’s cage-rattling post-match view.

During those clashes, Saints have lacked a ruthless streak.

They have also lacked discipline, which has been an issue in the opening six games of the season, with Saints sustaining eight yellow cards.

Now, they need to rectify both of those issues for the visit of an Ospreys outfit packed with forwards who played their part in the Lions’ successful tour of Australia during the summer.

Saints have been good on their own turf this season, winning twice in as many games, scoring 10 tries in the process.

But those showings, against Exeter and Sale, have been far from flawless.

Contrary to Burke’s belief, there is more to come from Northampton.

More to come from marquee signings George North and Kahn Fotuali’i.

More to come from some of last season’s headline acts such as Samu Manoa and James Wilson.

More to come, generally, from a squad packed with pedigree and capable of being whatever they want to be this season.

First, though, they must make winning a habit.

Make claiming victory in the biggest games a regular occurrence.

No excuses, upcoming games against Ospreys and Saracens give the chance for Saints to show their best form and prove Burke wrong.