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Paul Gustard backs Chris Ashton to show he's a more complete player

Published 14/01/2016

Chris Ashton is back in the England fold
Chris Ashton is back in the England fold

England assistant coach Paul Gustard is satisfied that Chris Ashton's defence has been tightened as the Saracens wing closes in on his Test recall.

Ashton has been included in Eddie Jones' 33-man squad for the RBS 6 Nations and is set to start the opener against Scotland on February 6, ending the 18-month international exile brought about by the previous regime's misgivings over his tackling.

Jones has described the 28-year-old as a "real winner" and Gustard has noted the growing number of strings to his bow.

"Chris' all round game is pretty solid. His try-scoring is something that sets him apart from others," England's defence coach said.

"He has the willingness to run unselfish lines and selfish lines to make sure he gets the ball over the line.

"With defence, there is defending and there is tackling. As a defender, Chris is very astute. He plays the back field very well, gets into the line when we need him to.

"And he is working hard on his collisions. He has got better and there is still room for improvement, but as a complete wing, he offers a lot of strengths, a lot of merits."

Ashton has 19 tries from 39 caps and Jones believes he can rediscover the magic evident until he fell out of favour under Stuart Lancaster.

"Chris is as mad as a cut snake. He plays with a lot of energy, he's emotional and he's a real winner to me. He scores tries," Jones said.

"Everyone says how hard he's worked on his defence and high ball catching. He's definitely improved in those areas from what I saw 12 months ago.

"He can give us an edge. He's a big, physical guy when he carries. 100 per cent he can get back to where he was, he's only 28."

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