Cam Dolan is setting his sights on providing a real challenge for the Saints No.8 shirt after getting a taste of Franklin’s Gardens action for the first time.
The USA forward played 40 minutes in Saturday’s game against Championship side Rotherham Titans, who put up a brave fight before succumbing to a 33-28 defeat.
It was a good work-out for Saints and a special occasion for Dolan, who arrived at the club last December.
The 24-year-old was unable to break into the first team last season, with Sam Dickinson and international team-mate Samu Manoa standing in his way.
But with his first Gardens appearance under his belt, the confident American is ready to scrap for a regular starting berth.
“I’ve got a couple of guys ahead of me, but hopefully I can break through, show the coaches what I can do and hopefully it will work out for the team,” said Dolan.
“Seeing the boys do so well last season has given me a goal and it has made me even hungrier.
“It was a good little run-out against Rotherham. I was coming off the back of a broken foot so it was nice to be out there running and playing again.”
Dolan used his lengthy adjustment period at Saints to put on some added bulk and get used to the systems that are in place at the club.
And he now feels more physically prepared for life in England than when he first arrived.
“Not playing meant I was able to get my strength numbers up tremendously,” he said. “I put 8kgs on and got used to the system. It was basically like a six-month pre-season and that paid off.
“I’ve been in the gym doing extras, eating more than I usually would to get that weight up, while still maintaining speed and fitness.”