Eddie Jones, the England coach, has told Chris Ashton that he remains in his plans ahead of the summer tour to Australia as the Saracens wing prepares to return from his 10-week ban against Bath on Friday night.
Ashton was in scintillating form before he was cited and harshly suspended in January for making contact with the eyes of Ulster’s Luke Marshall in a European Champions Cup game. Beforehand, Jones had described the rugby league convert as a “real winner” after including him in his Six Nations squad after two years in the wilderness under Stuart Lancaster.
The ban put paid to Ashton’s hopes of a recall as Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson nailed down the wide berths during England’s Grand Slam-winning campaign. However, before his return at the Rec, Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, revealed that Jones had been in touch with the wing, who turned 29 yesterday, as he formulates his post-Six Nations plans.
“He was frustrated at the time and he had to get his head around the length of the ban,” said McCall, who confirmed that Ashton would start in a rematch of last year’s Premiership final. “Eddie Jones has given some encouragement that he is still possibly in the plans if he produces the goods. That has given him a boost in the last two months of the season. I think Eddie wants wingers who can score tries and Ash’s try-scoring record is as good as anybody’s per game.”
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