Ashton driven to distraction
Chris Ashton has revealed that he was so frustrated at having to sit in the stands and watch England run seven tries past Fiji that he left Twickenham after an hour on Saturday and drove home.
The Saracens wing had been forced to endure purgatory in the West Stand after accruing three yellow cards in the Aviva Premiership, costing him a golden opportunity to end his England try famine. Ashton has scored 15 tries in 26 Tests but has not touched down for England since the World Cup pool match against Scotland nine appearances, 13 months and one coaching regime ago.
"It was so frustrating I had to leave after 60 minutes. I couldn't watch it any more," said Ashton, who has been recalled to the side to face Australia on Saturday. "I was pleased for Charlie (Sharples) scoring some tries but it was frustrating in general to see so many tries being scored and not being able to be involved."
He went on: "It's killing me not scoring for England. It has been a tough two weeks with England when you are not allowed to play. I am glad that is over and to be back involved."
Ashton's ban came with a warning from Judge Jeff Blackett (RFU disciplinary chief) to improve his tackling technique after he received three yellow cards for dangerous play.
"I think it was something I let slip a bit with changing clubs," Ashton said. "Other things tend to take your concentration away and you focus on other areas.
"Tackling with no arms was what we did as a child and growing up (in rugby league) and so sometimes you revert back to that."
The three incidents were as much about Ashton's hot-headedness as his technique, although both have been addressed by England over the past fortnight. Ashton has been doing one-on-one tackling drills with Thomas Waldrom and James Haskell - "I have been getting smashed," he added - and extra work after training with Andy Farrell.
"You never want to give your international shirt away and it has been a tough lesson for Chris," England head coach Stuart Lancaster said.
"He has done plenty of work on his tackling technique and we have made sure he controls his competitive instincts in the right way. We want to make sure we are good in those collisions, that we are disciplined and don't give points away or lose players from the field."