Ahsee Tuala admits it felt like the old Saints were back during the first half of last Sunday’s defeat at Exeter Chiefs.
Jim Mallinder’s men scored two tries before the break to earn a 12-3 lead at Sandy Park, but they eventually slipped to a 20-12 defeat.
The loss of Tuala, nicknamed ‘Ace’, to a hip injury at half-time didn’t help the cause as he had been a key man on the wing.
And the Samoan, who was making his first start since November in that match, is now hoping to recover in time to play a part in the next few games.
“The first half was good but I just picked up a little injury and couldn’t carry on in the second half,” Tuala said.
“I’m doing alright and the next couple of days will tell whether I’m fit to play.”
And on the first-half display at Exeter, he added: “It just felt like we were back to the old Saints, running the ball, scoring good tries.
“In the second half it changed up a bit and it was a bit tough.”
Tuala initially joined Saints in February 2015 as injury dispensation for Ben Fodenhe , but did enough to earn a longer contract in May of that year.
He was aiming to kick on this season and his performance at Glasgow Warriors in November, when he scored two tries in a memorable Champions Cup win, looked set to keep him in the side.
“It was a great experience,” he said of the 26-15 success at Scotstoun.
“It was my first time in Scotland and it was a bit cold, but we got a few meat pies (tries).
“It was really good.”
But Tuala’s campaign has been hampered by a calf injury that ruled him out for a spell between December and March.
He was happy to be back last weekend though, and is now looking make his mark, knowing his side face a tough final five games in the Aviva Premiership and a Champions Cup quarter-final at Saracens.
“It’s been good since coming back from injury,” he said.
“I played for the Wanderers against Sale earlier this month but it was a couple of months since I’d played a first-team game.
“I was on the wing last weekend, but I’m not too fussed where I am, as long as I’m on the field.
“Wing’s been pretty good for me, but I’m not too sure.
“It (the run-in) is definitely going to be tough.
“We’ve got three games at home and it’s going to be a good challenge for us to try to win them.
“It sets us up to make the (play-off) semi-finals and if we could win away as well that would boost us big time.”
And Tuala knows he faces added competition for a wing berth from George North, who returned from Six Nations duty earlier in the week.
He scored four tries in his final four Wales games in the tournament and was named third in the player of the Six Nations poll.
Tuala said: “G North brings that energy and all of his jokes when he comes back.
“It’s good to have all of the international boys back.
“The England lads were happy from the Grand Slam and it’s good to have everyone here.”