Luther Burrell has revealed Northampton were provoked into registering a precious 24-11 victory over Leicester after being accused of becoming “soft” by Jim Mallinder.
Mallinder, the club’s director of rugby, was brutal in his assessment of the 55-24 collapse to Saracens at Twickenham last weekend and the criticism drew the desired response.
Burrell, Dylan Hartley and Tom Collins ran in tries as Saints recorded their first victory in the East Midlands derby since 2014, a drought spanning seven successive defeats.
England forwards Courtney Lawes and Hartley impressed in the Aviva Premiership clash at Franklin’s Gardens and Burrell admits it was the strong words of Mallinder that underpinned the win.
“We all know last week wasn’t good enough by our own standards. It has been a tough week because quite frankly we got embarrassed by Saracens,” Burrell said.
“When you come in on Monday morning and your coaches are fuming with you and calling you soft, ultimately as a player you have got to react.
“You don’t want to upset your director of rugby, you don’t want to be called soft. If you are soft in this game, that (the Saracens defeat) happens on a weekly basis.
“We had to have a reaction and what a game to put it right – Leicester at home, a local derby. You look for that game at the start of every season, so it was very positive from our side.
“Leicester are a great side but we did not let them into the game. We had to step up our defence because we were soft last week. I think ultimately that’s what came through and it got us the win.
“We stepped up against Leicester, but we can’t get carried away. We are two games in but in a positive place now.
“We will quickly move on to Bath because they are looking pretty good this season.”