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Chris Ashton's decision to turn down England Saxons tour good call - Mark McCall

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has revealed that Chris Ashton turned down a place on the England Saxons tour to South Africa because his "head wouldn't have been in the right place".

Ashton was a shock omission from the senior squad destined for Australia with head coach Eddie Jones stating it was an easy decision to make due to his shortcomings in defence.

Ten tries in eight matches since completing the 10-week ban that forced him to miss England's Grand Slam triumph failed to convince Jones that the 29-year-old was ready to add to his 39 caps.

Instead, Ashton was offered a route back into international rugby - his last appearance was in New Zealand two years ago - on the second-string Saxons tour, but this was rejected on the grounds that his partner is due to give birth to their first child this summer.

Former England captain Will Carling believes that decision could have repercussions for his Test career, but McCall insists it was made in consultation with Jones.

"Obviously it was disappointing that Chris didn't get selected for Australia because he's done well for us since he's come back from his suspension," McCall said.

"Eddie showed him a little bit of understanding as well, same as he did in the Joe Marler case. As far as I know the decision was made in conjunction with Eddie.

"Chris went through a lot in that 10-week period and has played really well since he's come back.

"His wife is expecting and is due to give birth towards the end of June, so for all sorts of reasons Chris' head wouldn't have been in the right place, so it was probably best that he didn't go."

Fears over Owen Farrell's fitness for the Wallabies series have receded with Saracens confident he will be able to play in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final against Exeter at Twickenham.

Farrell suffered a rib injury in the play-off victory over Leicester last weekend, but is expected to be given the all clear alongside centre Duncan Taylor, who has concussion.

"Owen's fine. He's got bit of an issue with his side and didn't train on Tuesday, but he'll be fine. He'll be training on Thursday," McCall said.

"Duncan Taylor took a bang to the head against Leicester and is doing his return to play protocols, but everything has gone according to plan so far and we expect him to train on Thursday as well."


From Belfast Telegraph