Saints back row Jamie Gibson says the competition for a place in the starting XV is tougher than ever following his first start of the season against Bath last weekend.
Gibson is used to facing a stern test for a place in the back row, but with the arrival of James Haskell over summer, Tom Wood on the way back from injury, and pressure from youngster Lewis Ludlam getting ever stronger, the stakes for the number six jersey couldn’t be any higher.
He made 29 appearances last term, and is eager to better that following his first start of the season at The Rec, but recognises the challenge facing him over the coming weeks, with players looking to catch Boyd’s attention in the build up to The Derby at Twickenham.
“There’s seven or eight players who you could swap in or out with almost no change to the overall quality.
“It’s up to the coaches to make that decision but it’s been good fun having the competition between us and we’re enjoying pushing each other.
“There’s a lot of guys with a lot of experience and we’re learning from each other every day."
Saints currently sit in eleventh despite an encouraging start to the season, and Gibson knows the importance of making the next two games count before heading into battle in Europe against Clermont and Dragons.
A trip to the West Country for the second consecutive weekend, before heading to Twickenham the following Saturday, completes Northampton’s first block of Gallagher Premiership fixtures, and Gibson commented on his eagerness to come away with the maximum points to get back into the top half of the table.
“If you care about the table then it doesn’t make good reading, but at this point in the season it’s more about the process than the table. And if we keep building the way we are and keep heading in the direction we’re going then the result will take care of itself.
“Our frustration has been that we’ve let points go rather than been beaten, but we know we’ve turned a corner; we need to turn those results around and it’s in our hands to do so.
“Confidence and momentum is massive in rugby, and Bristol have come off a good win at the weekend. They're are a dangerous side, and they’ve shown this season that when they get things right and other people get it wrong they can cause a lot of problems.
“So we’ve got to go down there and put our stamp on the game to make sure that result is in our favour. "
Tickets are still available for Saints' next home match, which sees the men in Black, Green and Gold take The Derby against Leicester Tigers to Twickenham in aid of Rob Horne. Tickets prices start from £25 for adults and £10 for juniors. To purchase tickets please CLICK HERE.