Jim Mallinder says ‘top man’ Calum Clark fully deserves the honour of captaining England Saxons.
Saints flanker Clark will lead the Saxons out against Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 5pm).
He is one of four Northampton players in the squad, with props Alex Waller and Tom Mercey also starting and Sam Dickinson on the bench.
And Mallinder believes the 24-year-old was a wise choice for the captaincy, hailing the way his charge has recovered from some testing times.
“He’s had a lot of criticism has Calum in the past and he just worked hard on his game recently,” said the Saints director of rugby.
“He’s listened to the coaches, he’s listened to what England have got to say and he’s just been playing well for us.
“It’s just reward, he’s still a young man but he’s a great player and I’m sure he’ll lead the Saxons very, very well.”
Clark was banned for 32 weeks back in March 2012, following an incident involving Leicester Tigers hooker Rob Hawkins in the LV= Cup final earlier that month.
But he has stayed clear of trouble since, continuing to enhance his burgeoning reputation.
“Calum one of our top men,” added Mallinder. “He’s not one to talk too much but he leads by example.
“In our team we’re developing quite a lot of leaders like that, in the forwards and the backs. He’ll do a very good job for them.”