He may still divide opinions, but the recent upturn in form of England winger Chris Ashton means he deserves another shot on the international stage…
Ashton still remains the best finisher in the current England squad. In fairness, England have significantly improved their finishing over the last 12 months, but having a player of Ashton’s ability to get over the line is no bad thing.
The England back three who turned out in the Six Nations earlier this year finished with a combined total of 54 caps, an average of 18 each (although Mike Brown accounts for 37 of these). Ashton on the other hand already has 39 caps to his name.
One of Ashton’s biggest strengths has always been his support play. He has always been willing to provide support for players making a break, running inside on their should to provide options. Outside the likes of Ford & Joseph he could be really devastating.
Reports from the England camp are suggesting that Ashton is currently the fittest player in the squad. At the World Cup, the ability to continue performing into the 80th minute is absolutely essential and its important cannot be overlooked.
The biggest criticism people have levelled at Ashton has been his defence, however this is an area he has clearly been working on, where it is no longer a notable issue when compared to the other options on England’s wings.
Ashton has gone into the current England camp as one of the form wingers in the Premiership, and this cannot be underestimated. His performances for Saracens this season have been fantastic and deserve at least another run out for England.
Whilst his temperament may be considered fiery to say the least, it is this mentality that is going to be required at the World Cup. That desire to come out on top no matter what can rub off on other players and give them a boost.
Would you include Ashton in England’s final World Cup squad?