Wednesday, 4 July 2018

He's coming home...

Football isn’t the only thing coming home following the announcement that Chris Ashton will be playing his rugby for Sale Sharks next season.

According to Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal the French club released Ashton from his contract for family reasons – but all the indications are that his move to the North West is an attempt to resurrect his England career in time for the World Cup.

Given his try-scoring prowess and the improvements to his game at Toulon, he will be an undoubted asset to Sale, but whether he can leapfrog the likes of Day, May, Nowell, Watson or Brown in the England pecking order remains to be seen.

Whether he can leave behind his history of wazzockry will also be interesting to see. A start would be to ditch the ridiculous swallow dive.

I won’t be holding my breath…

1 comment:

Von said...

I still don't get the widespread disliking for Ashton.

- Everyone I'm aware of who's actually met the bloke says he's as decent a person as you'll come across. Look at the post-Barbarians match presser with Pat Lam - what a bond those two had developed in a very short space of time. * (In fact, I was a bit surprised Ashton didn't take him up on the informal offer to join him at Bristol, but Sale must be a lot handier for family).

- He's a passionate, committed competitor, who wears his heart on his sleeve.

- He scores tries at a ridiculous rate. 104% strike rate in his Top 14 season.**

- He's spent a whole season at Toulon in a different position, so he now offers greater versatility across the back 3.

- Has always taken the criticism in his stride, I've literally never heard him complain about it, even though it's been so wildly disproportionate and often abusive.

- Loads of players swallow dive over the whitewash, no-one else gets grief for it.

- Took three full-swing punches from a temporarily deranged Samoan and didn't even flinch. So calm and measured about it, even in the immediate aftermath of that match.

- He's making a massive sacrifice in my view, when he could happily continue scoring tries for fun and living a life of luxury on the south coast of France, quietly returning to England and going about his business.

Personally, I hope he has another amazing season - as part of a very exciting backline being put together at Sale there's no reason why he can't - and I hope he makes the world cup squad too.

* By the way, I bloody love the way Lam gestured inverted commas every time I mentioned the BaaBaas "relationship-building exercises", i.e. getting smashed together.

** Some people claim it doesn't count because so many are finishing off other people's hard work. This is nonsense. Finishing off tries is his job! If it were that easy, how is his strike rate so amazing? He reads the game and gets into the right place at the right time. Exactly what he is paid to do.