Northampton prop Alex Waller believes the trip to face arch rivals Leicester Tigers on Saturday presents the perfect opportunity for Saints to display their Aviva Premiership title credentials.
Waller and co head to Welford Road in a rich vein of form thanks to three wins out of four in the Aviva Premiership – a last-gasp defeat to Gloucester Rugby the only blot on their copybook hitherto.
A flurry of big-name arrivals over the summer has optimism coursing through Northampton again and Saturday’s short trip to face the Tigers presents the chance to exact revenge for defeat in last season’s Aviva Premiership final.
On the road, Saints have been impressive of late, chalking up victory in six of their last away matches but they have not won at Welford Road since their 10-9 triumph in 2007 – and prop Waller believes there’s no better time to amend that particular record.
“We haven’t won at Welford Road for a while so it’s time for us to put that right,” said Waller. “It’s a huge game, Leicester versus Northampton always is.
“You always know what you're going to get with a trip to Leicester. We know we have to be on the top of our game, we haven't won there for a while but we have some good players and we're looking to show what we're capable of.
“I think it was important for us to put that defeat against Gloucester to bed with the win against Sale and we’re back on track now and it gives us momentum for this weekend.
“The Premiership final isn’t that long ago so of course it’s still in a few people’s minds. “There’s no point looking back to much, we want to look forward but it has been mentioned a few times and we want to put things right and lay down a marker.”
Leicester meanwhile, have also won three of their first four matches, getting back on track last time out with a hard-fought win over Exeter Chiefs, having succumbed to Bath Rugby the weekend before.
That was their only defeat in their last seven however and the have lost just once at Welford Road in any competition in the last 12 months: 27-32 to Saracens in February.
Leicester have also been victorious in their last eight fixtures with Northampton, their best run against their near neighbours and East Midlands rivals since the 1980s.
Saints currently sit one place above the Tigers, who are third, but Saturday’s victors will head into the European break in at the very worst second place – and that’s all the motivation Leicester prop Dan Cole needs.
“It is massively important to win the game before the European break in my opinion because you want to build up momentum going into Europe,” he said.
“You also want to leave the Premiership in the best state you can, top of the league if possible but definitely in the top four.
“It sets you up for the rest of the season and if you can head into Europe off the back of a good run domestically it invariably makes life easier.
“European rugby is tough and every little helps, so that adds something to the Saints game.”
Referee: J P Doyle (66th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Robin Goodliffe. TMO: David Grashoff.