Jim Mallinder has praised 'outstanding' Courtney Lawes after the Saints forward starred in Saturday's success against Leicester Tigers.
Lawes, who lined up in the back row, produced an action-packed performance that earned him the man of the match award in the 24-11 Aviva Premiership victory.
The England star was one of the players of the season at Saints last year and did enough to earn a place on the British & Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand.
He came off the bench in the final two Tests to help the Lions secure a series draw.
And Lawes has picked up where he left off this season, with his display against Tigers key in ensuring Saints bounced back from their opening-day disappointment against Saracens.
"We saw last year that Courtney was one of the outstanding rugby players in England," Mallinder said.
"He was unfortunate not to start a Test for the Lions, but he played brilliantly coming off the bench in those Test matches.
"He's shown what a versatile player he is by playing six for us and showing that mobility.
"His height in the lineout gives you extra options.
"He's played six for England so he's very comfortable there."
Saints will be hoping Lawes can continue his fine form in the weeks to come, with Bath heading to Franklin's Gardens on Friday night.
But Mallinder knows he must be sensible in looking after his player.
"He's a tough, hard worker is Courtney," the Saints boss said. "He never complains.
"He's had his rest period, come back in and we're going to have to watch him. He can't play at that intensity for 80 minutes every single game, so we've got to be sensible with his welfare.
"We need to start this season well, we didn't last week so we need him playing full bore like he did for the next few weeks."
Lawes and Saints showed real character in overcoming the Tigers last weekend.
And Mallinder said: "I think the lads knew they played badly against Saracens and it was their response.
"You've got to win the collisions, particularly against the big sides. At Twickenham, we weren't.
"This time, we were putting them under pressure and their England half-backs (Ben Youngs and George Ford) couldn't control the game.
"You look at yourselves and sometimes you talk too much about tactics and the technical side, but you can never get away from those basics."