Jim Mallinder says hooker Dylan Hartley is ‘a real leader’.
And the Saints boss is backing Hartley, who is set to be named England captain today, to go from strength to strength during the Six Nations.
Hartley skippered Mallinder’s men to a bonus-point 22-10 victory at Scarlets on Saturday night.
It ensured Saints would qualify for the Champions Cup quarter-finals, where they will meet Saracens in April.
And Mallinder was full of praise for Hartley, who has now joined up with his country ahead of their Six Nations opener in Scotland on February 6.
“He’s a real leader,” Mallinder said. “He leads by example.
“He motivates and inspires the players.
“He’s not a massive talker, but he really gets the team wanting to play for him.
“We’ve seen that over the last few years in what he’s done for the Saints.”
And on Hartley’s current form, Mallinder added: “Dylan is getting better and that’s a bit obvious, but the more games he plays, the better he will become.
“He missed a lot of rugby at the beginning of the season and it’s really good for him to play his second game. I thought he played well on Saturday.”