Jim Mallinder says Tom Wood has brought a ‘refreshing’ approach to the role of Saints skipper.
Wood took over from Lee Dickson this summer and is set to lead the team out in the Aviva Premiership opener against Bath on Saturday.
The England flanker has already spoken about righting the wrongs of last season, when Saints finished outside the division’s top four for the first time since 2009.
And Mallinder has been impressed with the work Wood has done during the close season.
“Tom is refreshing, he leads by example, leads from the front, he is a very honest hard-working guy and he is somebody who the players admire and will follow,” Mallinder said.
“We are without a doubt aiming to challenge for the trophy. If you asked most directors of rugby, they would tell you that they want to make the top four.
“Clearly that is our aim, that is where we have been the majority of the time that I have been here. We need to make the top four and see where we go.
“We have got some good leaders. Dylan Hartley has done a brilliant job, Lee Dickson captained the side last year during the World Cup and then Tom Wood has come in now.
“Hopefully their leadership abilities will help to drive the team forward. Tom has more responsibilities, but he is doing it his own way, just as Dylan did and Lee did.”