Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Gatland should not be concerned - Ashton

Chris Ashton is sure the English contingent will behave on the Lions tour

Chris Ashton insisted Warren Gatland should have no concerns about taking England players on the British and Irish Lions tour because they have learned from the mistakes of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Gatland is mindful of the media circus that developed around the England squad during that tournament, with players' off-field behaviour making front page headlines. The Lions coach is concerned that England players are "not always the most popular with other countries" and could be targeted or set up.

But Ashton, who was involved in two high-profile incidents in New Zealand, is now more aware of his own responsibilities, and said: "I understand why people might think that (about English players) from what happened then (at the World Cup) but it's completely different here now."

He went on: "The people who were around then have learned their lessons from that and the people who weren't there know the consequences if you get involved or caught out in the way we did, so I don't think there'll ever be a repeat of that.

"At the time, it was a mistake and it was something we didn't intend to happen.

"We didn't do it on purpose but sometimes it takes mistakes like that for you to learn and luckily the guys who have come into the squad have seen those mistakes we made.

"We'd take exactly what we've been doing here and it wouldn't change. You're still representing this team and the country.

"Speaking from experience, I won't be getting caught out again like I was last time."

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