- Chris Ashton on his rollercoaster 12 months
- England wing says first Test try against Australia was amazing end
By Sky Sports
Photo: Getty Images
England wing Chris Ashton says he will never have another year like this one, after it culminated with two tries on the tour to Australia and New Zealand.
There is no doubt that facts – from club and personal hardship to a first Test try – add up to a rollercoaster 12 months for the Northampton flyer.
Ashton, who moved from a successful career with Wigan in rugby league to Northampton in 2007, began the season questioning his future in rugby union after struggling to adapt to the rigours of the Guinness Premiership season.
Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would end it by scoring his maiden Test try in England's victory over the Wallabies on Australian soil – only the third in history – before registering again against the New Zealand Maori four days later.
And in the middle all of this, the 23-year-old had to cope with the death of his father, who was buried the day before Ashton was named the Guinness Premiership player of the season.
"It has been a weird year for me, really weird," he said. "I don't think I will ever have another one like it.
"To play for England in the RBS 6 Nations and then to come out here – which I never thought would happen – and get a win against Australia, I couldn't ask for anything more.
"I have learned so much from all the people around me. I am definitely a better player for this experience.
"It has been massive for me. I only really knew the Northampton lads before I came on this tour and now I have 39 new mates.
"They are all great lads and we've got on great. It's been a long trip but I have enjoyed every minute of it."
Photo: Getty Images
Ashton was a sensation in his first season of rugby union scoring a record 41 tries in the second tier to help Saints earn promotion back into the Premiership.
But a slow campaign last year prompted him to contemplate making the move back to rugby league.
Ashton stuck to it however and that determination reaped rewards as he emerged as the Premiership's leading try-scorer with 23 from 32 games, including two hat-tricks.
"It is still a learning curve for me," he added. "I like to think I am getting the hang of it in the Premiership now.
"But this tour has definitely taken it up a little bit more. That is exactly what a tour like this is for.
"It has been a long season for me, a whole year. I was back in training at the start of June last year because I wasn't even in the Northampton team.
"I will have a rest now and then get back to it with Northampton and hopefully I can carry on from what I've done this year."
To find out more check out Chris Ashton’s player profile on RFU.com, and to stay up-to-date with all the latest England news, including the first place to see Martin Johnson’s new Senior EPS squad from 2pm tomorrow (July 1), visit the dedicated Senior England Men news section on RFU.com.