WHAT MAKES CHRIS ASH­TON A PRO­LIFIC SCORER EVEN THOUGH Chris Ash­ton has yet to play for Eng­land un­der Ed­die Jones, the Aus­tralian may yet con­sider the pro­lific winger for the au­tumn se­ries, de­spite a seven-week ban for a pre-sea­son tip tackle for new club

T he Sale Sharks wing is too good f or Eng­land to ig­nore, writes

Rugby World - - THE ANALYST -

The tim­ing of the sus­pen­sion is hugely dis­ap­point­ing for Ash­ton, par­tic­u­larly af­ter his scin­til­lat­ing per­for­mance for the Bar­bar­ians against Eng­land at the end of last sea­son.

Ash­ton is not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, what with his swal­low dive and an­tics to­wards ref­er­ees. But you can­not deny his try-scor­ing record and abil­ity to light up a crowd with sear­ing in­ter­ven­tions in matches. He has made the tran­si­tion from rugby league seam­lessly and is one of the few play­ers who has been able to trans­fer many of his league skills to the mod­ern union game.

As a re­sult, he is no longer con­sid­ered sim­ply as a winger. Hav­ing played full-back for Wi­gan War­riors, he has been given the op­por­tu­nity to show his worth in the No 15 shirt and it was from this po­si­tion that he crossed for a first-half hat-trick in May at Twick­en­ham – the il­lus­tra­tions you see here come from that match. There is no doubt Sale will ex­ploit Ash­ton’s skill-set as an in­ter­change­able back-three player. Ash­ton runs clever lines of sup­port. The key is in his vi­sion and eye for space. He judges to per­fec­tion where the run of a ball-car­rier will take him, so he can be on the in­side sup­port for a pass or off­load. Play­ing at full-back al­lows Ash­ton more free­dom to roam into mid­field, from where he runs what are called ‘cheat’ lines. In­stead of run­ning long arcs from ruck to ruck, he an­tic­i­pates play and runs lat­er­ally on an in­side line. Us­ing his scan­ning and vi­sion, he can pop up where needed for an in­side pass and his ac­cel­er­a­tion from a slow start is elec­tri­fy­ing and catches blind­sided de­fend­ers un­aware. Be­low, his cheat line en­ables him to take an off­load from Finn Rus­sell and score a try.

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