Teimana Harrison hopes to feed off the desire to reignite his England career that he shares with James Haskell when the veteran flanker joins Northampton next season.
Harrison won the last of his five caps in 2016, but has been summoned from international exile to join the squad preparing for next Sunday’s annual non-cap fixture against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Absent from the England set-up altogether is Haskell, the 33-year-old Wasp who has been rested for next month’s tour to South Africa.
Haskell has signed for Northampton in a cut-price deal in order to keep his international aspirations alive, knowing Twickenham will not select from overseas clubs, and Harrison believes the presence of his fellow back row can only be beneficial.
“It will be really good to have James at Saints. I’m looking forward to learning from him and I’m sure his banter around the team will lift us,” Harrison said.
“I get on well with him – he’s a really nice guy, always wants to improve, and he wants to get back into the England set-up, so we can bounce off each other well.
“And I’m ready for the challenge to my place in the team. If you are not ready to fight for your spot you are not learning.
“Pretty much all of our back rows are internationals and if they’re not they should be. It is good for the club.”
Harrison has dropped behind Sam Underhill and Tom Curry in the openside hierarchy, his prospects harmed by a dismal season at Franklin’s Gardens that ended in a ninth-place finish in the Aviva Premiership.
“You’re trying to do stuff that (England head coach) Eddie Jones wants you to do, but you can’t because your team are struggling,” Harrison said.
“But it’s not that difficult – you can work through it. I don’t think it’s had a massive impact on my form.
“It has been a tough season, but it has given me the platform to knuckle down and work on my game.”