Ashton out to 'erase' mistakes
November 15, 2012
Winger Chris Ashton returns to the England line-up having served a one-match suspension © PA Photos
England winger Chris Ashton is determined to 'erase' the mistakes that have blighted his season so far with a return to his try-scoring best against Australia on Saturday.
The Saracens speedster was handed a one-week ban on the eve of England autumn campaign having picked up three yellow cards - each for reckless tackles - in this season's Aviva Premiership. As a result he had to look on as England ran in seven tries against the Fijians in a performance that meant a recall by coach Stuart Lancaster was far from a foregone conclusion.
"For any winger to get three yellow cards in seven games is tough going," the 25-year-old told Sky Sports News. "When you are only making two tackles a game it is pretty ridiculous getting sin-binned in three games. It was my fault and I have had to go away and work on my technique which I have been doing for two weeks solid so hopefully we can now erase those mistakes."
Reflecting on the agony of his self-imposed isolation in the Twickenham stands and the try-scoring exploits of wingers Charlie Sharples and Ugo Monye, he said: "It's difficult when the team is going so well and wins by so many points. I found it really hard to watch in the end and it was always going to go like that, there was nothing I could do. I did it myself and I got banned myself so I gave them the opportunity which is something you never want to do. Charlie took his chance really well and scored two tries and Ugo got another and I had a few sleepless nights over the weekend but luckily Stu has chosen me to play."
However, Ashton took heart from England shortcomings with the ball in hand that saw several chances missed. "I think we could have scored a few more tries," he said. "You end up banging your head on the window a bit. But it is the same for everyone watching from a long distance, it is easy to see but difficult on the pitch. I didn't see the whole game out because I couldn't stand it anymore. I left before the end when we were well and truly clear because it was hurting my head to see so many tries go in."
That pain may stem from Ashton's failure to score in his last nine Test appearances. "Wingers are meant to score tries apparently and nine games is a long time," joked the winger who has scored three tries in the Premiership this season. "It's quite difficult when you only get five games in a row in the Six Nations and they are all really tough games it is hard to get a run going. I am sure I am just searching for that one and hopefully we'll be back on track again but that first one is proving difficult."
Despite Ashton's barren run, Lancaster insists he is not living off past glories - the most famous being his length of the field try against the Wallabies at Twickenham two years ago. "He lives on what he does in training and for his club," insisted Lancaster, "he's moved to Saracens and made a great start."
He added: "His work rate off the ball is outstanding and defensively he has improved massively. I know he has had a couple of yellow cards at the start of the season but his positioning and his understanding in the back three with Alex Goode is a real strength.
"The way he tracks the ball and creates opportunities, not just for himself but for others, and he is a proven try scorer over the long haul, he may not have scored so many recently but you watch him in training and he is popping up all over the place and will add real value for us."
The return of Ashton sees England juggle their back three with Sharples moving to the unfavoured left wing to accommodate his rival and Monye making way. "We've done some work on it this week," said Lancaster. "Charlie's played on the left before and the way we try and play the game we want our wings to swap wings as well.
"I think he spent as much time down the left as he did the right last week. He's more than happy to play there and to get two players of that quality in the side is good for us and with Alex [Goode] who I think was outstanding last week."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies