As many as 17 players could be absent from Franklin’s Gardens on any given week through a mixture of Six Nations, Saxons or junior international call-ups.
Ties against Dragons and Saracens will decide the Saints’ future in the LV= Cup before a vital four-game block of league clashes with Exeter, Worcester, Newcastle and Gloucester, also during the international period.
“It’s the end of a really tough run in the Premiership and Heineken Cup meaning the international lads get a bit of a rest before their duties start over the Six Nations,” Mallinder commented. “It’s great to have so many players representing the club and their absence also presents a good opportunity for some of our younger lads and some of the bench players to come back into the first team and play some rugby.
“We want to win every game we play and every competition we are in and the LV= Cup is no different.
“We view it as a valuable competition and of course it also leads back into the Premiership, where we’ll need these lads playing well to maintain the momentum we’ve started.”
The Saints, who are now on a run of six consecutive victories, are in Newport this weekend before heading home for a crunch meeting with Saracens that could well determine their fate in the LV= Cup, not to mention any potential home semi-final.