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Chris Ashton chats to sportsbeat about his England hopes

By sportsbeat
April 12 2016

Eddie Jones’ England reign has already been one characterised by fresh starts, and if Chris Ashton has his way he will be the next man handed a shot at redemption. The Saracens winger returned to action in style last weekend, scoring two tries against an out-of-sorts Bath, following his ten-week ban for making contact with the eyes of Ulster centre Luke Marshall. That ended any chance of Six Nations involvement but the period has been one of reflection for Ashton, who remains as determined as ever to join Jones’ newly crowned Grand Slam winners for their summer tour in Australia. Premiership champions Saracens are well placed to defend their title this term, sitting top of the table despite a turbulent Six Nations period which saw many of their international stars – and Ashton – out of action. But with Jones already showing he is happy to bring the likes of new skipper Dylan Hartley in from the cold after his World Cup snub, Ashton is now relishing the chance to shine in Sarries’ title tilt.

Chris Ashton scores the first try for England against Wales

“The plan from here is definitely to get myself called up for the Australia tour,” he said. “Missing so much of the season I feel like I’ve still got a lot to get out of this year, and luckily I have that opportunity.

“If everything goes well then I’d love to think that I would get onto the tour, and with Saracens being where we are I’m in an ideal position to show what I can do in some high-profile matches.

“Of course I’d like every game to go like it did the other night and I could get a couple of tries; that’s what I plan to do each game.

“I have spoken to Eddie a little bit in recent weeks and he’s just said that the door is not shut and that the opportunity is still there for me.

“It’s down to me to put myself in that position and make it happen. He’s already shown that he will pick players on form and the best team available will play, so it’s up to me from here on in.”

Ashton fell out favour following England’s tour of New Zealand in 2014, though once upon a time the 29-year-old was immovable from the starting XV – famously scoring six tries after two rounds of the 2011 Six Nations.

However the immense performances of Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson during this year’s Championship, coupled with Jones’ reluctance to include a third specialist winger in his matchday squads, shows Ashton’s task to haul himself back into the reckoning is set to be a hard one.

Centre Jonathan Joseph was often switched out wide in preference to the likes of Semesa Rokoduguni and Marland Yarde, who both found themselves sent back to their club sides.

But while Ashton admits those ahead of him have earned their first-choice billing, he is desperate to keep them looking over their shoulders.

He said: “The England backline doesn’t look too different under Eddie personnel-wise, but they are playing a bit differently and look like a team with confidence which makes a big difference to a side.

“But for me it was a tough one not to be involved having been so close to getting back in for the Six Nations.

“So I’m not really looking too far past that in terms of who I’ve got to edge out of the team. I just want to get back in the squad first and take it from there.

“There’s not much else I can do as the lads who were in for the Six Nations played well, so there’s the first-choice guys at the minute. I’ve just got to play well enough to get a chance.

“I don’t think the time out will hamper my chances for the summer though. The lads in there at the minute deserve to start the games at the moment based on how they’ve played – but as long as I get my chance at some point I’ll be happy enough.”

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Chris Ashton chats to sportsbeat about his England hopes
Unofficial England Rugby Union (IP Logged)
12/04/2016 11:03
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