Soane Tonga’uiha admits he’s struggled to rediscover the form which made him one of the most feared props in world rugby.
But the Tongan titan is hoping a couple of weeks out of action will help him get back to his best for Saints.
Tonga’uiha was in full flow last weekend, running over Marland Yarde to touch down in Northampton’s 40-14 destruction of London Irish.
It was classic Tonga’uiha, and brought back memories of the 2010/11 campaign, when he was simply unstoppable in helping Saints reach the Heineken Cup final.
But the 31-year-old concedes he’s found it tough to hit the heights of his most stellar of seasons.
“It’s quite a tough one,” said Tonga’uiha, while taking a week off, with Saints not back in action until March 23. “The last few years I’ve been trying to find the form I had a few seasons ago and I can’t put a finger on it.
“The biggest thing for that is confidence and trying to work well with the team. Obviously when you’ve got guys in the team now that like to carry and like to do things around the park, you just blend in.
“You don’t step back, but there are other guys doing it like Samu Manoa. You can’t stop him from doing anything at the moment. Full credit to him.
“I just can’t put a finger on my form at the moment. It’s not that I’m not working hard enough or pushing myself, it’s just hard to find the form that I had in the past.
“Hopefully this couple of weeks off will point me in the right direction.”
Tonga’uiha will make the move to Racing Metro this summer, bringing the curtain down on a seven-year stay at Saints, which started when he joined form Bedford Blues in 2006.
And the powerhouse loosehead has revealed his desperation to go out with a bang, by helping his current club claim Premiership glory this season.
“To be honest, I’m quite desperate,” he said. “I’ve been here a long time and we’ve come so close in the last three years and been knocked out in the last seconds in semi-finals so surely this has to be the year for us.
“We’ve got to get in the top four first, and then we’ll take each game as it comes.”
As Tonga’uiha points out, Saints must finish among the play-off places to have any chance of lifting the league title come May.
They currently sit fourth, with five games to go, and the importance of those fixtures is not lost on one of their most seasoned campaigners.
“The next five games are going to be massive for us,” added Tonga’uiha.
“We saw the past four games as a season within a season. We didn’t quite succeed in what we wanted; we wanted four out of four and we got three out of four, which we’ll take. It’s got to be seen as a great achievement, when you look at the teams we played against.
“The next five games are going to be a big ask. We’ve got next weekend off as well, but then we go into Wasps away and Leicester at home. They’re two big teams that we need to beat to stay well within top four contention.
“As a team and as a squad we’re peaking at the right time and hopefully we’ll stay within the top four then, come the knockout stages, anything can happen.”