Ashton needs to clean up his act
Tue, 06 Nov 2012 06:29
England wing Chris Ashton has been told it is vital he keeps his discipline by coach Stuart Lancaster after being ruled out of Saturday's match against Fiji through suspension.
The Saracens flyer will miss the Fiji fixture after being banned for a week having totted up three yellow cards in the Premiership this season, all for dangerous tackles or off-the-ball charges.
Rugby Football Union (RFU) disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett, when passing sentence, urged Ashton to work on his tackling technique.
Ashton's fiery temperament has been almost as much an issue in recent times and Lancaster, while he doesn't want the rugby league convert to lose the audacious streak that saw him score a stunning length of the field try against Australia at Twickenham two years ago, has spoken to the wing.
"I have had a chat with him about both areas," Lancaster said.
"One of Chris's real strengths is his competitive nature. It is tempering that to make sure we get the best out of him and, alongside that, work on his tackle technique.
"He is more disappointed than anyone that he is not available. He has to deal with it and put that frustration to bed and work on those two areas to make sure he is ready for next week."
Ashton will be available to face Australia at Twickenham on November 17 but England must go into the Fiji game without a man who has scored 15 tries in 26 Tests, although none in the Lancaster era.
"You cannot just manufacture finishers. They come through the Premiership and we aim to pick them from there," Lancaster said.
"There aren't many world class finishers around anywhere. We think we have two (Ashton and the injured Ben Foden) but they are unavailable.
"The spark doesn't have to be on the wing," Lancaster stressed.
"Danny Care, Ben Youngs, Alex Goode, Toby Flood, Owen Farrell - there are lots of playmakers in our team, people who can change the course of a game."
After Fiji, England host Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on consecutive weekends at Twickenham.
Lancaster's men need to at least hold onto the fourth place they currently occupy in the International Rugby Board rankings if they are to be seeded for the 2015 World Cup in England and so avoid the likes of the All Blacks, the reigning champions, in the pool phase.
"I have said to the players 'this is production time now'," Lancaster said.
"We are confident. The challenge is the strongest one we have faced against one, two and three in the world but we need to find out where we are and where we stand."
As well as Ashton, another member of England's squad who will need to watch his on-field conduct is James Haskell.
The Wasps forward received a retrospective yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Alistair Hargreaves in a Premiership defeat by Saracens on Sunday.
Haskell has received a written warning for the level one citing and the sanction will go on his record as a yellow card.
If Haskell were to accrue two more yellow cards he would face an automatic disciplinary hearing similar to the one that banned Ashton.
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