Hartley: Saints won't miss Ashton
August 26, 2012
England international Chris Ashton was a key player at Northampton © Getty Images
Ashton, 25, scored 93 tries in five seasons with the Saints before choosing to move to Saracens this summer. The England international's departure from Franklin's Gardens was an acrimonious one as he fell out with director of rugby Jim Mallinder and was left out of several key matches.
Skipper Hartley insists Saints will have no problems in replacing Ashton with Samoan speedster Ken Pisi, who has joined his brother at Franklin's Gardens, youngster Jamie Elliot and Paul Diggin all ready to fill the void.
"We have always had players that wanted to be here," Hartley told the Rugby Paper. "But with wingers there's always someone younger and faster coming through.
"We won't miss him. I'm not denying his ability to find the ball and finish tries but we've got Ken Pisi and if he's anything like George he'll be outstanding. George doesn't touch a weight and his training ethic isn't the best and he's awesome in the field. I've seen Ken's ethic and it's brilliant so hopefully he'll be better than George.
"We've got Jamie Elliot coing through all right as well and out old stalwart, pepper-face Paul Diggin, so we aren't short of good wingers. You have got to remember Chris hasn't been with the club now for four months - out of sight out of mind.
"There are new players who have come in and they don't know who he is so that's the point in taking about him."
Northampton have reached the Aviva Premiership play-offs in the past three years but failed to make it to the final. But Hartley believes that consistency of finishing in the top four means they are ready to take another step forward this year.
"We must be doing something right because we're there or thereabouts each year," he said. "It's just about taking that final five minutes of the game. This year has been quite good and we've worked hard in pre-season, which will hopefully come through on to the field."
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