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Chris Ashton still hoping to win back England spot after ban

Published 27/09/2016

Chris Ashton is serving the second of two lengthy bans in 2016
Chris Ashton is serving the second of two lengthy bans in 2016

Chris Ashton has refused to give up hopes of an England recall, despite his latest lengthy suspension curtailing any slim chances of November Test action.

The Saracens wing was last week banned for 13 weeks by the Rugby Football Union for biting Northampton front-rower Alex Waller.

The 29-year-old continues to maintain his innocence, but admitted he will contest the matter no longer, instead focusing on fighting for a future in the Test arena.

Ashton won the last of his 39 caps in June 2014, and missed any opportunity for a Six Nations recall earlier this year due to a 10-week ban for making contact with the eye of Ulster centre Luke Marshall in January.

"My clear ambition is first to regain my place in the Saracens team and then to regain my place in the England side," said Ashton, who is free to play again on December 19.

"It may seem a long journey back from the despair of last week's judgement but I will do everything in my power to get back to where, in my heart, I feel I belong."

Ashton was hit with two charges of biting Waller in Saracens' 24-12 Aviva Premiership victory over Northampton on Saturday, September 17.

The former Northampton wing was found guilty of one of those two charges in an RFU hearing last Tuesday, with Saracens later opting not to appeal the ruling.

In admitting his frustrations with his latest sanction, Ashton paid tribute to the faith shown in him by Saracens, while also setting his sights on an England recall.

England boss Eddie Jones has cooled his interest in the free-scoring Saracens flyer, who could find it a tall order to complete another Test-level comeback.

"It would be an understatement to say I was disappointed last week to be handed a 13-week ban by the RFU, my second significant ban of 2016," Ashton told Saracens' official website.

"I told the disciplinary panel that I did not bite the Northampton prop, just as I had told the panel in January that I did not make contact with the eyes of the Ulster centre.

"Both panels chose to accept the opposing version of events. I did not agree with either verdict but I must and do accept the sanctions.

"There is no place for biting or gouging in rugby, and World Rugby are 100 percent correct in seeking to eradicate these actions.

"Rugby is a physical sport but it is also a fair sport; that is the way I have always played the game, and that is how I will continue to play the game.

"I would like to thank publicly Saracens for their support during these times, and I am wholly committed to repaying the faith of Nigel Wray, our chairman, and Mark McCall, our director of rugby, and all the other coaches, players and staff of this special organisation."

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