Ben Foden believes England ambitions will add extra fuel to the Saints fire for a testing run of January fixtures.
Foden and Co got the new year off to a flying start with a bonus-point 39-31 victory against Newcastle Falcons last Friday.
That result kept them top of the Aviva Premiership ahead of Saturday’s trip to Sale Sharks, which will be followed by crucial Champions Cup clashes with Ospreys and Racing Metro.
And with the Six Nations following those matches, Foden and his team-mates are keen to continue proving points to England boss Stuart Lancaster.
“We’re No.1 at the moment which means teams are going to come for us,” said the full-back, who was named man of the match in the win over Newcastle.
“We’ve got some tough fixtures, with Europe around the corner. We’ve got one eye on that.
“There’s a lot of things to prove, especially in England terms for players like Stephen Myler and Luther Burrell.
“There’s a lot to play for and hopefully we’ll do that and stay top of the league.”
Newcastle caused problems for Saints during a second half which saw the away team claim a try bonus point.
And Foden knows his side have plenty to work on ahead of this weekend’s tricky trip to Salford, where Jim Mallinder’s men were beaten last season.
“We knew Newcastle would come and cause us problems,” he said. “They’re very much a team on the rise so we knew we had to be on our mettle.
“Credit to them, they really tested us. We probably eased up a bit when we got our bonus-point try and Newcastle stuck it to us and got a point themselves.
“We’re by no means the finished article and it gives us a lot to think about going into this game against Sale.”