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Six Nations: Ashton is different class for England

England manager Martin Johnson hailed Chris Ashton as a unique talent after he scored four tries in a 59-13 rout of Italy at Twickenham.

Ashton became the first England player to achieve the feat in a Five or Six Nations match since 1914 and he has now scored nine tries in his first nine Tests.

Given Ashton was on the brink of quitting rugby union altogether just 18 months ago it has been a remarkable rise — quicker and more impressive than even Johnson could have hoped for.

Johnson compared his impact over the last 12 months to England's only previous unqualified cross-code success story.

“Chris is a bit different. When Jason Robinson came into the team he was different in how he played and Chris is different again,” Johnson said.

“We need finishers. They make the difference in games. Chris is enjoying what he does but underneath that he does work hard, he is conscientious and he wants to be a very good player.

“The world is very, very quick now. At the start of last season Chris wasn't sure of a place in the Northampton team and he was playing for England by the end of it. When you think where he is now, we are very pleased with his progress.”

Belfast Telegraph