McCall: Ashton underlined his quality
Published 31/03/2013 | 07:46
Saracens boss Mark McCall was delighted to see under-pressure England winger Chris Ashton recapture his scoring form ahead of next Sunday's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster at Twickenham.
Ashton grabbed the crucial second-half try which put the Aviva Premiership leaders ahead for the first time in the 22-13 away win over Wasps but director of rugby McCall was equally pleased with the winger's all-round performance and the form he has shown since returning from Six Nations duty.
"I thought he was absolutely brilliant today," said McCall. "It was the Chris Ashton everybody talked about two years ago, popping up all over the place, hands on the ball, making breaks. But he also defended very well, he was hungry for work, he was energetic so it was great for him."
McCall believes Ashton has benefited from his return to the club, stating: "He's a sensitive soul and anyone in the world who is sensitive is going to be affected a little bit by some of the criticism he received.
"However, when he came back to Saracens he knew he was coming back to a place where we won't judge him in that way. We back him, we believe he's a great player - that's why we brought him to the club.
"We leave him be and we let him play and let him do what he does best. At our club we try to concentrate on what people are good at rather than what they are not good at - and Chris is good at quite a few things."
Saracens trailed 13-0 after 13 minutes before hitting back to take control of the game.
McCall said: "One thing we have got better at over the last 12 months is dealing with setbacks.
"The boys showed a great resolve to not panic, to hang in there and know that when we get going we can get some points on the board."
Looking ahead to next weekend's European clash, he added: "It's all systems go for Ulster, which is a must-win game."