Northampton wing Ken Pisi is feeling positive after a hard week's training work in France that ended with a pre-season loss to Castres.
The Samoan international played the first half of that game and was pleased with the team building as well as the on-field efforts of the trip.
"It's been hot, but good as well," said the wing.
"The boys have bonded well. We've worked hard but had an activity day rock climbing as well. We've come closer as a group and hopefully we can build on that when we get home.
"There are a few new players here and we’ve needed to get them knowing what Saints is like as a team and what we do off the field. It's like a family.
"The training sessions have been tough, and maybe had a bit of a toll on the legs in the game. They felt a bit heavy, but that's what pre-season is for."
Pisi missed the pre-season 12 months ago as part of the Samoan Rugby World Cup squad. And after admitting that integrating back into the squad last season had its challenges he said that he has seen the benefits of a full summer at Franklin's Gardens this time around.
"Pre-season has been successful, I think," he added. "We've seen some of the boys transformed, including myself.
"Last year was difficult to come back into the Saints after the World Cup, it took a bit of time to adjust. But being here from day one has helped me massively."