David Ribbans has expressed his gratitude for being given a weekend off by Saints to head home on compassionate leave.
Ribbans missed the match against Worcester Warriors on October 26, which Saints won 35-16, to be with his family in South Africa.
And the lock, who has enjoyed a superb start to the season, thanked boss Chris Boyd for allowing to miss a Gallagher Premiership match.
"It was important for me to head home for family reasons," Ribbans said.
"I'm really glad Boydy gave me the time off - it meant a lot to me and my family.
"I was straight back into it last week (in the win against Harlequins) and played a full 80 after a long flight.
"I was cramping a little bit so I got a bit of stick from everyone - clearly a week off was too long - but it was important to go back and I'm happy to be back at Saints now."
Alex Coles and Alex Moon teamed up in the second row against Worcester in Ribbans' absence.
And Ribbans said: "We're blessed in the second row department now.
"There was a time when we were really struggling in pre-season because a few boys were injured and myself, Colesy and Beany (Lewis Bean) were putting a bit of a shift in to keep going.
"But now we've got Api (Ratuniyarawa) back, Moon's back and playing great rugby and we're going to have Courts (Lawes) back soon so we're in a good space there."
Saints have started the season in style, winning all three of the Premiership games and four in a row in all competitions.
Ribbans has been key to that form, scoring four times already.
So is the 24-year-old setting his sights on Saints' top try scorer accolade this season?
"I've had a bit of stick about that from the boys!," Ribbans said.
"But I'm sure it will die down quite quickly when you've got the likes of big T (Taqele Naiyaravoro) and Hutch (Rory Hutchinson) and Dingers (Fraser Dingwall) making magic in the centres.
"I don't think it will last for me."
On Saints' start to the Premiership season, he added: "It's been great. Three from three is a great place to be. I don't think we're getting carried away because it's a long season but the boys have confidence.
"It's exciting being at the top and it's looking good.
"It was great to be back last week. Friday night games are always special.
"We played brilliant rugby against a really good Quins team (Saints won 40-22). We slipped off a bit in the second half but it's something we've worked hard on this week.
"We really enjoyed the first 38 minutes and it was exciting playing that type of rugby, quick on top of teams.
"If we can keep that going we're going to be dangerous."
Next up for Saints in a Bath side who pack a punch up front.
And ahead of the trip to The Rec, Ribbans said: "We've analysed them pretty well and we think we know what they're going to bring.
"They've got a massive forward pack and they will come for us at lineout and scrum time to really physically dominate us.
"Then they will try to get their good backs into the game.
"It's a massive game for us as a forward pack to step up this weekend because we know if we get front-foot ball our backs are dangerous and we can score tries from nothing.
"There's a massive emphasis on us eight and then the bench to come on to secure the win this weekend."
Saints have already won at Leicester Tigers and Saracens this season.
And Ribbans said: "Something we've said about last season was that we need to be better on the road.
"We're generally quite consistent at home as a whole but we've been a bit inconsistent away.
"We need to go down there, to a wet and boggy pitch, all the usual, out of our comfort zone and we've got to do a job."