Lee Dickson says the arrival of ‘phenomenal’ Samoan scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i has helped him improve his game.
Dickson has been one of the stars of the first six games for Saints, who have yet to lose when the England man has started this season.
Fotuali’i was given the No.9 shirt from the off in defeats to Gloucester and Castres and is continuing to settle into life at Northampton after a summer move from Ospreys.
But he has clearly already had a huge impact on Dickson, who is benefiting from having a real rival for his scrum-half spot.
“I’m really happy at the club,” said Dickson. “The rotation thing with me and Kahn has really worked. I feel really fresh and every time I play I really put in a performance.
“I’ve gone away and worked on the stuff I needed to. My running game’s a lot better and the tempo of the game is always there with Saints when we play.
“Kahn’s a phenomenal player. He’s been a massive help for me. He’s opened my eyes to a lot of things.
“We’re good friends on and off the pitch. He’s got a very good eye for a gap and reads the game very well.
“I’ve been helped a lot by him in reading the game and knowing when to run and when not to run. He’s been a massive help for me personally in these past two or three months.”
Dickson, who likes to play an up-tempo game, and slick Samoan Fotuali’i both add something different to the Saints mix.
“We definitely complement each other well,” said Dickson. “He’s very powerful, commanding and very good in the loose game.
“I complement him by priding myself on getting the ball away as quickly as I can, getting (Stephen) Myler and our outside backs into the game early and bossing the forwards around.
“I think I’ve done that really well these last couple of weeks and our running game’s there as well. I’ve made a couple of breaks here and I’m trying to get the rest of my game spot on.”
Dickson will soon switch competing for the Saints No.9 shirt for battling for the England role, with Ben Youngs and Danny Care also vying for starts.
He had the better of Youngs in Northampton’s recent 19-19 draw at Leicester and feels he’s putting himself in a good position for selection.
“It’s nice to be named in the squad for the three Tests coming up,” he said. “Hopefully I’ve proven over the last couple of weeks what I can do and I’ve managed to get in there, which is good.
“I knew it was a big test going there playing against Youngsy. He had the shirt from the Six Nations and went on the Lions tour so I knew I had to play really well. I think I did do that and the team played well and we were unfortunate.
“We probably should have come away with a win there but on a personal front I think I ran around well and did all my stuff well.
“I got the game ticking and got the team ticking. That’s my job: to get the forwards to do their job and get the ball to the backs.”