Chris Ashton vows to take out Fiji frustration on Australia
06:50 16 November 2012
Chris Ashton has revealed that he was so frustrated at having to sit in the stands and watch England run seven tries past Fiji that he left Twickenham after an hour and drove home.
Ashton hit the road to St Albans just minutes after Charlie Sharples, his replacement on the right wing, scored his second try as England raced to a record 54-12 victory.
The Saracens wing had been forced to endure purgatory in the West Stand after accruing three yellow cards in the Aviva Premiership, costing him a golden opportunity to end his England try famine.
Ashton has scored 15 tries in 26 Tests but has not touched down for England since the World Cup pool match against Scotland nine appearances, 13 months and one coaching regime ago.
“It was so frustrating I had to leave after 60 minutes. I couldn’t watch it any more,” said Ashton, who has been recalled to the side to face Australia on Saturday.
“I was pleased for Charlie scoring some tries but it was frustrating in general to see so many tries being scored and not being able to be involved.
“It’s killing me not scoring for England.
“It has been a tough two weeks with England when you are not allowed to play. I am glad that is over and to be back involved.”
Ashton’s ban came with a warning from Judge Jeff Blackett (RFU disciplinary chief) to improve his tackling technique after he received three yellow cards for dangerous play.
“I think it was something I let slip a bit with changing clubs,” Ashton said. “Other things tend to take your concentration away and you focus on other areas.
“Tackling with no arms was what we did as a child and growing up (in rugby league) and so sometimes you revert back to that.”
The three incidents were as much about Ashton’s hot-headedness as his technique, although both have been addressed by England over the past fortnight.
Ashton has been doing one-on-one tackling drills with Thomas Waldrom and James Haskell - “I have been getting smashed,” he added - and extra work after training with Andy Farrell.
“You never want to give your international shirt away and it has been a tough lesson for Chris,” England head coach Stuart Lancaster said.
“He has done plenty of work on his tackling technique and we have made sure he controls his competitive instincts in the right way.
“We want to make sure we are good in those collisions, that we are disciplined and don’t give points away or lose players from the field.
“Chris has been part of that and understands that. One of Chris’ greatest strengths is his competitive instinct.
“Sometimes he can get a bit frustrated and he has to channel that frustration and put it into positive action. That is the message.”
That will certainly be Ashton’s aim this weekend as England aim for a third consecutive victory over Australia.
If Ashton could have picked any opponents against whom to make his return it would be the Wallabies, given his record of three tries in three Tests against them.
Ashton scored his first Test try in England’s 21-20 victory in Sydney on the 2010 summer tour and touched down twice in a record 35-18 win at Twickenham the following autumn.
The second of those efforts, finished by Ashton after England launched a counter-attack from behind their own line, has gone down in the annals as one of the great Twickenham tries.
That performance was also England’s best under Martin Johnson and that side went on to win the 2011 Six Nations before crashing and burning at the World Cup.
Only four of England’s starting XV survive from the 35-18 triumph, but Lancaster insists the same attacking mentality still exists.
And should the opportunity present itself again, Lancaster has given his team license to attack from behind their own line.
“Absolutely, of course,” Lancaster said. “While not all our execution was there last week our mentality and our intent to play was there and I don’t see that changing.
“The players have a license to go if they feel it is on.”
Sharples has been switched to the left wing to accommodate Ashton’s return, with Lancaster opting against making any other changes from the Fiji game.
England are favourites against an injury-hit Australia side, who were beaten 33-6 by France last week.
“Australia are a quality team and we know what reaction will come this week. We will need to be on our mettle,” Lancaster added.