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Ashton: Tuilagi can change a game

Chris Ashton is ready to pack a punch for England alongside his one-time assailant Manu Tuilagi.

The Northampton wing will make his first start of England's World Cup warm-up campaign against Ireland on Saturday, while Tuilagi wins his second cap alongside Mike Tindall in a centre partnership. The last time they were on a rugby field together, Ashton found himself on the receiving end of a three-punch combination from Leicester's Anglo-Samoan centre, who was later banned for five weeks.

"I am looking forward to playing alongside him," said Ashton. "He's quite a player isn't he? The impact he has on games for Leicester - he's the sort of player who can change a game. To be outside a guy like that, I'm pretty excited about it."

He added: "He can create the gaps hopefully and I can just be outside. He can definitely change a game and he's got that in him to do that on the weekend.

"We kissed and made up a while ago to be honest. It's all forgotten. We're part of a team now and it's never brought up.

"It might be when we play Leicester v Saints but for the time being it's been put to bed."

England return to Dublin on a revenge mission after Ireland wrecked their Grand Slam ambitions with a comprehensive victory at the Aviva Stadium in March.

This may be England's final preparation match for the World Cup, but there are some scores to settle.

"They beat us pretty convincingly and it's pretty hard to take," said Ashton. "I think at that stage of the tournament we became a bit predictable in our play. We tried to run from deep and it just didn't work.

"They battered us really so yeah, we have a chance to go over there and get them back."


From Belfast Telegraph