Ashton to be handed license to thrill
August 27, 2012
Chris Ashton mae a high-profile switch from Northampton to Saracens at the end of last season © Getty Images
Saracens boss Mark McCall is ready to give new signing Chris Ashton license to roam across the Aviva Premiership stage this season.
Ashton, who made a high-profile switch from English rivals Northampton at the end of last season, has an impressive 92 tries to his name in 110 Premiership appearances and the England international has also scored 15 times for his country in 26 Test appearances.
That impressive run of form has been based on a freedom of expression granted by the Saints and England management and McCall is set to follow their lead as he looks to nurture further improvement from the 25-year-old winger.
"I think that Saracens' history was a bit of a revolving door, where ten would come in and ten would leave," said McCall. "When we started this project three and a bit years ago, we wanted to get a settled group and have a core group of players who remained together for a period of time.
"I think that if you look at the history of teams who have succeeded in the Premiership, generally that has been the case and clearly you want to keep improving and adding. We have added two or three, but not many.
"Chris Ashton is obviously a hugely exciting rugby player and he is hopefully going to have a great season for Saracens next year. At the same time, Chris is only 25 years old and he's very much at the start of his journey and he knows he can improve his game and we'll work every day with him to try and do that.
"We certainly won't be expecting him just to stay on the right wing and he will have a licence to roam which he does better than anybody else."
Saracens failed in their bid to defend the Aviva Premiership crown last season but their excellence brought reward elsewhere with many of McCall's players selected for England's recent tour of South Africa.
"One of the most pleasing aspects was that we had four, five or six players who went and played for England without previously doing so," McCall added. "Not only have we produced a new batch of England internationals, but on top of that people who came to the club in the last 12-18 months - Richard Wigglesworth, Charlie Hodgson and David Strettle - have all had their England careers reignited by coming to Saracens.
"There are a lot of positive things happening at the club and Saracens have craved consistency since the start of the professional era and it is something they've never had. But in the last three seasons we've made the Premiership final twice and I think the consistency is there and we just want to be at the top of the table every year."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage
"If you listen carefully you should be able to hear them mining the granite for the statue of a certain Jonny Wilkinson" Graham Jenkins reports from the Heineken Cup Final
Quade Cooper's defence is better than it was 12 months ago and Robbie Deans has erred in omitting him from the core Wallabies squad to play the Lions, Greg Growden writes
"People on the outside think unfounded thoughts on Toulon." Tom Hamilton talks to RCT lock Nick Kennedy ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup final against Clermont