POLL: Does Chris Ashton’s form merit an England recall?


Chris Ashton’s performance was brilliant against Clermont in the Heineken Cup semi-final – he looked like the Ashton of old, tracking the ball and timing his runs to perfection. There was a beautiful 20 foot pass in the second half, and he even made a tackle (on Napolioni Nalaga, no less). His form in the second half of the season has been sublime, and he is the first man to reach 11 tries in a Heineken Cup season.

Many thought he outstayed his welcome in the England team before finally being dropped after the Autumn Internationals, but given Jonny May and Jack Nowell’s good if not excellent performances in the Six Nations, is it time Chris Ashton is recalled to the national side? Or has his ship sailed after too many error-ridden performances in the white of England? He looks certain to travel to New Zealand as part of the squad, and may well miss the first test due to the Premiership final, but he could certainly feature after that.

Vote in our poll below and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Should Chris Ashton return to the England test side in New Zealand?

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Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

18 thoughts on “POLL: Does Chris Ashton’s form merit an England recall?

  1. I’ve been as big a critic as anyone of Ashton over the last few seasons – I was calling for him to be dropped as of the start of the 2012-13 season – but I do wonder how much the problem was more England’s game plan than the player himself.

    If we continue this “attack from anywhere” mentality, then he may just fit into things well… Whilst not doing anything wrong, it’s not like May or Nowell have set the world alight. I’d be willing to give him one last chance.

  2. I can’t stand him but Eng should pick on form. He’s been put outside the squad and answered in the best possible way so he’s worked his way back into reckoning. Better to pick the Eng side on HC form than whoever had the jersey a few months ago.

  3. I would definitely have him back in. I don’t think he has ever been completely discarded by SL anyway, he was always in the training squads for the 6 nations.

    Wing has clearly been a problem position for England, and it still is really. It’s probably the only position where we are still relying on the unknown. For example, many (including myself) see Wade as our best option, but the guy has one cap against an understrength Argentina. Every others position in the England side is either settled, or being battled out between two (or three) tried and tested quality players.

    SL clearly looks at each set of games as an opportunity for players. For example, this 6 nations he seemed to have said to Burrell, May and Nowell. You have 5 games. Unless you get injured, you have 5 games to prove yourself.

    Nowell and May for my money did not. Nowell is ahead of May in my book, but whilst SL was correct to give them both a go, it doesn’t necessarily mean he thinks they are his best long term option.

    In order, I would currently have our wingers like this: Wade, Yarde, Ashton, Nowell, May….

    Wade is unlikely to be fit unfortunately, so Ashton and Yarde should both be given game time against NZ. Nowell and Yarde to start the first test with Ashton (probably) playing the final.

  4. There isn’t much reason not to pick him really (on current form). He is a world class finisher when he is at his best. And although May & Nowell did a decent enough job through the Six Nations, if you were going to criticise them for anything then it would be there finishing.

    Pretty sure he’ll get a run out alongside Yarde who I can’t make my mind up about so would like to see Ashton and Nowell in the same side. Not sure how that would work though as they both like to play 14.

  5. If Ashton has shown anything it’s that club form doesn’t have to match international form. He has been exceedingly lucky to be playing for a side bristling with high-performers this season, especially in the Heineken. Yes he has played well, yes he has picked lines and shown finishing quality like we used to see from him two years ago, but he has done so whilst on the side of a squad which has him constantly on the front foot.

    Would he perform as well in an English Jersey where he’ll be forced onto the back foot, forced to defend (an area he is notoriously bad at), and so faced with the psychological demons which decimated his attacking quality last year?

    I wouldn’t bring him back. He had his chance and he used it up, fading into dismal performances. If he was producing this kind of play whilst playing for Worchester I might have a different opinion.

  6. I can’t help but think no to he honest. Granted he’s been spectacular for Sarries recently, but I can’t help but think that there is a need for players to fit a group ethic, and that maybe he just doens’t fit England’s. How well does he gel with the rest of the England squad? And could that have been an issue with his form in the white shirt?

    That said, I’d put him on the plane to NZ and give him some game time to see if anything has changed in that environment.

    1. Now you bring it up, it does seem that Ashton’s massive drop in international form came pretty much instantly when Lancaster replaced Johnson. Yet all the while, he was never performing as bad at Sarries as he was with England…
      Perhaps you’re right, perhaps he simply doesn’t fit into this England squad.
      However with England’s newly formed attack shaping up nicely, I wouldn’t deny him a second opportunity to see what he can do in said attack on that hypothesis alone. So yes.

      1. Well is it much of a surprise? Lancaster replaced Johnson after 2011. Ashton picked up 6 of his tries in the 2011 RWC against the powerhouse nations of Georgia, Romania and Scotland. He picked up another 4 against Italy in 2011 6 nations.

        He’s try scoring record is very very well padded with half his tries coming in just 3 games.

        What annoyed me a little is that Ashton has always complained that it’s a very rigid gameplan etc. And yet with Burns, Nowell, May, Billy V, Lawes we’ve had interviews stating that Lancaster has told them to play their game, and that’s why they were in the squad in the first place.

        Now I agree with this new attacking England he may well be able to show well, but I’m not in a hurry to put him ahead of others just yet. He should keep his EPS spot, but I want to see Roko, Wade, Yarde, Watson (if he sorts out his kicking), and maybe if it’s not too late, Varndell.

  7. Have to say that amazingly Ashton, Cipriani and Haskell all deserve to go to NZ on form. Whether they will or not is up to SL as is whether they will play. The only thing that has an alarm bell tingling away at the back of my mind is their effect on the team ethos that SL has built, but if Ashton can stop swallow diving, Haskell can give up the team Haskell brand and Cips can remember that it’s not all about him (which to be fair they all seem to have done (to a greater or lesser extent!)) then there is hope.

    1. We’ve played Watson primarily at 14 this season, so the right side, yeah. He’s also had a fair bit of game time at 15, when Bendy was either injured or out of favour.

  8. Was Ashton’s club form really that much worse earlier in the season when he was stinking up the England team? I still feel like the long-term future for England on the wings involves some of the following players before Ashton: Yarde/Wade/Elliott/Rokoduguni/Varndell/Nowell (though I see Jack more as the heir apparent to Brown, he plays more like a fullback). Perhaps Chris can get back in, but a strong showing for Sarries doesn’t necessarily suggest he’ll do the same for England.

    1. I think his club form was a long way down. Sarries were kick chase and defence only and he didn’t seem to be enjoying his club rugby too much.

      It was a tragic mistake to keep picking him when he wasn’t delivering as:
      – We didn’t get to look at Wade when he was on fire during last 6N
      – He’s had so many chances it makes him harder to recall now he is showing signs of form.

      On other options I would like to see Wade and Roko have a go on the right wing before we go back to Ashton. Wade because he’s scored more tries that no other English winger could in the prem (and Amlin) and Roko to give us a real pace/power option. With Nowell out and in all likelihood Wade and Ashton not available for the first test either I’d go Roko right wing and Yarde left wing.

  9. Ashton’s club form has been pretty good all season, in terms of performances rather than just tries scored. He hasn’t played well in attack for England under Lancaster, but that is down to the other players on the team, (Care at SH has possibly made everyone better) his defence can be solely attributed to him though.

    He isn’t a “creator” of chances, and never has been. He is however, when in form, the best finisher England have, particularly in terms of reading the game and being on the shoulder of someone making a break, rather than just running in tries from his own wing. Interestingly, it seemed in this 6N that England’s attacking systems encouraged the wingers to do this, when previously it had not.

    With Wade and Nowell out for NZ, I would play Yarde and May in the first test and see how they go, but I wouldn’t bet against Ashton making an appearance on the tour.

  10. With Wade and Nowell out, potentially Ashton and Watson/Roku in the premiership final, we may be a bit short of wingers again (please dont move Brown on the wing again. Foden at a push maybe)- someone may be making their debut in NZ! Who would we bring back in? Monye, Strettle (please no) and Sharples have all been capped by Lancaster in the past couple of years.

    I’d throw a wild-card name in the mix- Charlie Walker of Quins? Remember all the early season chatter about him? Really exciting prospect (that learning experience from George North aside) and now back from injury- can step of both feet as well. That’s practically unheard of for an England wing.

    I think another early season contender, Miles Benjamin, is also out for the rest of the season.

  11. I’ve always been surprised how much English people have it in for Ashton. He’s a very good player who suffered from form issues, like many good players. Should be good final. It’s been a while since we’ve had an English French HC final.

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