Return of international stars has put a spring in Saints’ step

Michael Paterson has enjoyed the return of Saints' international stars (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Michael Paterson has enjoyed the return of Saints' international stars (picture: Sharon Lucey)

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Michael Paterson says the return of some star names has put a spring in the step at Saints.

The club will have all of their non-England internationals available to face Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday.

That means the likes of France No.8 Louis Picamoles and Wales wing George North will be in contention to take on the Tigers.

And Paterson said: “It’s great to have the Pisi brothers, George (North), Ace (Ahsee Tuala) and, obviously, Louis (Picamoles) coming back from France.

“It’s always great to have those experienced and big-name players in our squad.

“George always has a smile on his face around the changing room and it’s great to have him playing tricks on everyone again.

“It lightens the mood after what has been a tough week.”

Saints were close to ending the international window with a fine record, having won four matches in a row prior to last Friday’s 22-16 Aviva Premiership defeat to Newcastle Falcons.

And Paterson said: “Our plan was to win all of those games, but obviously plans don’t always come off.

“We’ve got to rectify it this week and make sure we put in a performance that’s worthy of a Saints jersey.

“We’ve got to put them under pressure and you never know what might happen.”

In the middle of a mixed season, Saints know they need to start rewarding their fans.

And there would be no better way to do that than by winning at the home of their bitter rivals.

“First and foremost, we want to do it for ourselves because we’ve obviously let ourselves down,” said Paterson.

“We’re hurting more than anyone else and I appreciate the fans do our best every week to support us, but first and foremost we want to put a smile on our own faces.

“That flows down to our families and supporters.”

No one at Saints or Leicester is likely to need any extra motivation ahead of this week’s match.

And Paterson said: “If you can’t get up for a local derby against Leicester, there’s probably something wrong and you shouldn’t be in this position,” Paterson said.

“There’s no doubt the boys are up for it and willing.

“We just need to put a performance in that we’re proud of and make sure we do everything right to perform at the best of our ability.”

So what has Paterson made of fourth-placed Tigers so far this season?

“They don’t get any easier, do they?” he said.

“They’ve got a good pack, backs who can throw the ball around and obviously it’s a tough place to go and play.

“It’s not an easy task, but it’s one we’re willing and up for.”