Alex King believes Saints’ pre-season programme will provide the perfect mix of challenges as they bid to hit the ground running in the Aviva Premiership in September.
Northampton will play four games in the build-up to the league curtain-raiser against Gloucester at Franklin’s Gardens on September 5.
First up, is Saturday’s clash with Championship team Rotherham Titans at the Gardens, with Leinster and Moseley both arriving a week later.
The pre-season campaign ends with a trip to Newport-Gwent Dragons, and King is relishing the start of the match action.
“We’re looking forward to getting going,” said the attack coach. “We’ve got Rotherham and then Leinster, which has become a bit of a tradition and it will be a great test for us.
“We’ve got Moseley as well and then with the Dragons down in Newport we’re up against my old mate Lee Byrne, who is the captain there.
“They will be good tests and different challenges for us to get us in the right shape for Gloucester at the beginning of September.”
As usual, the coaches will use the friendly encounters to get vital minutes into the players ahead of the start of the serious stuff.
And King has urged fans not to read too much into the games, especially the first blow out against Rotherham this weekend.
“It’s one of those games where a lot of guys will get 40, 45 minutes,” he said. “There will be subs coming on and off and it’s a way of us getting a bit of match fitness into a lot of them.
“In terms of who plays and who doesn’t, I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s a case of who’s fit, who’s raring to go, who’s worked hard in training and who deserves to play at the Gardens for the first game.
“There will be a lot of changes, a few combinations people may not recognise, but it’s a good opportunity for guys to get match fitness after training hard.”
Saints’ England stars have been at a training camp at Loughborough this week and may be given more time to get up to speed at the Gardens.
“It depends how they are,” King said. “We’ll assess them all individually and put a plan in place for them over the next few weeks.
“Everyone’s slightly different and maybe some need more time to get their fitness up to speed in the gym and things.
“Every player is an individual case and will be treated as such with these four games in mind.”