Courtney Lawes has revealed that Saints were inspired by an emotional team talk from the returning Calum Clark in Friday’s win against Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens.
Clark made his first appearance since May 2015, completing 58 minutes on a successful comeback from a shoulder injury that kept him out of competitive action last season.
The 2014/15 players’ and supporters’ player of the year looked strong as he helped his team secure a nail-biting 20-19 Aviva Premiership victory against the Chiefs.
But Clark’s involvement wasn’t limited to the confines of the Gardens pitch, with the bearded flanker fuelling the fire in the dressing room, too.
Lawes explained: “It was great for Cal, he really inspired us before the game and at half-time. He has an incredible engine and he showed it out there.
“He led the team talk at the start and he had a bit to say at half-time, talking about how much it means to him to play for Northampton again - he is an inspiring guy.”
Saints needed a penalty from Harry Mallinder two minutes from time to pick up their first home win of the season.
And Lawes praised the composure of the young back, who stepped into the 10 shirt at late notice, following Stephen Myler’s withdrawal with a shoulder injury.
“Harry is growing as a player, he is learning from every mistake he makes - unfortunately when you are young you do make a lot of mistakes,” Lawes said.
“He is growing as a character in the team and he is a brilliant player, he did fantastic on Friday with unbelievable composure to get the win at the death.
“We were desperate for that win and I think it really showed out there - we came back twice.
“We really back ourselves, we know we have been playing in patches and if we can string it together for the full 80 minutes there are not many teams who can live with us.
“We are just looking to stop these lapses of concentration.”