June International Tours

Chris Ashton wants his England place back



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Former England winger Chris Ashton says that he wants to win back his place in the England team as he prepares to help Saracens reach their first Heineken Cup final.

Twenty-seven-year-old winger Ashton scored two tries in Saracens Heineken Cup Semi-final against Ulster which booked them a place against Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ashton says that he wants to win his place back in the England line up and go on England’s summer tour of New Zealand.

“I’m a great believer in everything happening for a reason,” Ashton told BBC Radio 5 live.

“I’ve got a couple of games left this season to put my hand up, and get back involved in New Zealand.”

While Ashton has struggled in and England shirt over the last two seasons he has flourished in his Saracens shirt.

This season Ashton has scored nine tries in the Heineken Cup and is one away from equalling the all-time tournament record for tries in a season.

“These are the games I want to be involved in, it’s another reason I came to this club,” he said.

“I’ll take the try if it comes at the weekend, but if it doesn’t, I won’t be forcing my hand to get it.”

Former Aviva Premiership champions Saracens were eliminated in the Semi-finals of the Premiership and the Heineken Cup last season but Ashton says that they are better equipped to go further this season.

“As a team we have changed quite a lot, in the way we play and the personnel we have. The group knows each other a little bit more, and we’ve moved on to another level,” he added.

“I think we need to prove to ourselves more than anything else that we can go one step further.”

Ashton is hoping that another strong Saracens performance will help to convince England head coach Stuart Lancaster that he is ready to tour New Zealand in June.

“Last time I spoke to Stuart, he said it’s in my hands to get involved (again),” Ashton told the BBC.

“New Zealand’s going to be a tough tour, and you want to be involved in that in the build up to the World Cup. I’m enjoying rugby again.”

Ashton has won 37 caps for England but has not played at international level since November and was dropped for the Six Nations.

In Ashton’s absence Jack Nowell, 21, and 24-year-old Jonny May started on the wings for England but Ashton is confident that he can win back his England shirt.

“I’m only 27, I’d like to think I’m heading in to my prime and I’ve got a lot to offer still,” he said.

“Wing is a position where there are always new and up-and-coming players coming through. But the great players – like Brian O’Driscoll – always manage to stay in the team and on top of their game.

“Those kind of setbacks have got to spur you on a little bit. That’s why they are there, to push you on and improve. Hopefully my time will come again.”

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