- Chris Ashton tells RFU.com about his try-scoring for England
- Lancaster has built a strong team culture, says winger
Despite scoring 17 times for England over the past three years, winger Chris Ashton is determined to keep improving and says he is as hungry for tries as he has ever been.
In his 31 caps for England the Saracens star has gone over the whitewash against a number of world-class opponents, including his length-of-the-pitch try against the Wallabies in the latter part of 2010, and more recently when he finished off a Manu Tuilagi break against New Zealand to record an historic 38-21 victory at Twickenham.
Ashton has taken that momentum from the All Blacks victory through to this year’s RBS 6 Nations, scoring in the opening fixture against Scotland to go tenth on the all-time list of English try scorers. Top ten status was not enough to get him over the line in England’s second match though against Ireland in a soaking-wet Dublin, but going into the game the former rugby league star says he was not expecting many opportunities to score.
“It was always going to be difficult to go to Ireland but we knew we had to get the job done,” he said. “It was better to be without the ball than with it and we knew that pretty early on. We just wanted to defend as it’s something that we are good at as a team.
“In the conditions like that there are no options with the ball in hand, especially when it’s pouring down with rain. There weren’t going to be too many tries flying in.”
Following the wins against New Zealand, Scotland and Ireland, there is now a sense that the England team put together by head coach Stuart Lancaster is finding its rhythm and their efforts coming to fruition after four winless Tests against South Africa last year and a disappointing loss to Australia.
Photo: Getty Images
Ashton has been a central figure in Lancaster’s starting lineups and although renowned for his blistering pace and support running, he has shown himself to be a versatile player during this year’s tournament. Against Ireland he won two turnovers and in the Scotland match he made 11 carries. Moving away from being just a try-scorer is an important focus for the England winger and he says that everyone in the team is comfortable in their roles on match day.
“Everyone just knows their role in the team and is pretty comfortable with it,” he said. “Sometimes you get a little bit unsettled if you don’t know what your role is and how you are expected to play so if everyone is comfortable in their position and where they need to be then it’s going to work well.
“He (Lancaster) has always said to me to do what I do well and that’s just being like a dog chasing everything. I have got to realise that I can’t do it all the time and have to get back, but my hunger is still there. I still want to score tries and still want to chase everything just in case there is half a break or a chance there. I will carry on doing that.”
England will play France on February 23 at Twickenham in their next RBS 6 Nations encounter. It will be another potential opportunity for Ashton to claw his way up the all-time scoring list and for the pitchside photographers to get their action shots of “The Splash”, his renowned dive over the line when scoring.
But ask the winger whether breaking records will be on his mind if he gets selected for the French clash and you see that behind the individual brilliance shown over the past three years, Ashton is a true team player: “I am not too bothered about that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go ten games again without scoring, but I will take them when they come.”