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AUDIO – Ashton hopes for special treatment

25 February 2011

  • Chris Ashton aims to take advantage of any special treatment from France
  • Flying England relishing the prospect of facing a tough French outfit
Northampton and England wing Chris Ashton meets the press ahead of the RBS 6 Nations game with France

Photo: Getty Images

In-form England wing Chris Ashton has told he hopes France have altered their game-plan in order to try and halt his try-scoring run, but is confident that won't be the case come 5pm tomorrow.

The Northampton Saints player has epitomised England's fine start to the 2011 RBS 6 Nations with six tries in the opening two victories over Wales and Italy, already equalling the tournament record held by former England centre Will Greenwood and Wales wing Shane Williams.

But, despite proving a main talking point, Ashton has reiterated the importance of a team performance and says that the French should concentrate on shutting him out at their peril.

"I don't think they'll focus on me. I hope so – I don't mind if they want to do that – but I don't think so," he said.

"I’m sure they'll say what they've got to say but I don't think they’re going to be changing their game-plan to start marking people. It’ll start affecting them and create holes for us – so hopefully they have, but I very much doubt it."

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AUDIO – England star Chris Ashton chats to ahead of France clash

Ashton's thrilling form has seen him become only the second England player to score four tries in a championship match, and the first for 97 years, against Italy last time out. But the former rugby league star is quick to praise England's all-round inventive play, which gives him opportunties to show his support-running skills.

Good team spirit in the England camp

Northampton and England wing Chris Ashton celebrates his third try against Italy at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

And the 23-year-old is relishing the chance to continue providing that support against Les Bleus, in what is set to be the most significant game to date in his flourishing international career.

"There's a good spirit in the team at the minute. We're playing well and it's always good when you're winning games. People are making breaks all over and I'm just lucky enough to be on the end of those tries," he said.

"I think we've played exactly how we've wanted to play in the last two games, it was tough in Wales and it was tough against Italy but I think it’s gone well and we’re sticking to exactly what we've done.

"These are the games that I came to rugby union for and this is why I want to play rugby union, and I couldn't ask for more to be honest."

Ashton backing Cueto to add to Italy try

Mark Cueto is mobbed by his England team-mates after ending his try-scoring drought against Italy at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

Much has been made of Marc Lievremont’s selection for tomorrow's game after the France boss made four changes to his unbeaten side and Ashton is respectful of the threat posed by any French XV.

Despite Sebastien Chabal coming in at No.8 for Les Bleus to try and limit England's expansive play, the home side had always been expecting a tough physical encounter.

"It's an interesting dynamic, but they've got spades of it and can keep picking them out from all over," Ashton added.

"I don't think swapping the players round is going to make a massive difference to us and our game-plan – they're all just as good as each other in my mind and they can all play different positions.

"I think there may be more to it than the previous two games. We've had a week off in the build-up, which always adds that bit more. They're unbeaten, we’re unbeaten – so it's a massive occasion and hopefully the game will live up to it."

Following his first try in 18 games against Italy two weeks ago, Mark Cueto will hope to continue his scoring revival when France arrive at Twickenham, and Ashton is backing him all the way, adding: "It was about time that conker tree scored a try – it’s been far too long and I’m sick of him coming to mine and Fodesy’s room in tears.

"He doesn't know what to do with himself, so at least we're over that now and hopefully it won’t get to 18 games again because there was a big monkey on his back – and it took him a long time to get it off, as well."