He finds space that others don’t
England coach Stuart Lancaster is not concerned about wing Chris Ashton’s discipline heading into Saturday’s Cook Cup match against Australia at Twickenham.
Ashton returns as the only change to the matchday side after missing the 54-12 victory over Fiji last weekend due to his one-week suspension for accumulating three yellow cards in the Premiership.
Lancaster, however, doesn’t anticipate any disciplinary problems from the Saracens speedster, who has worked on his defence ahead of the weekend’s meeting with the Wallabies.
“He recognised that three yellow cards before the end of October wasn’t good enough. He’s done some work on his tackling technique and I’m pretty sure he can fix that up,” said Lancaster.
“It’s important he retains the competitive element he has in his game but equally well makes sure he stays on the field and I’m sure he’ll be fully focused on helping the team win on Saturday.”
Lancaster said he opted for Ashton - with Charlie Sharples moving from right to left wing in place of Ugo Monye, who drops out of the team - as he has the X-factor that is needed when taking on one of the best teams in the world.
“He finds space that others don’t. He support plays in a manner that is pretty unique and he’s also on the end of things, he likes scoring tries. To win games at the highest level you need try-scorers and he’s certainly one of those,” he said.
Lancaster added that he is not reading into Australia’s 33-6 humbling by France last weekend, noting their 18-all draw with the All Blacks prior to the Paris result as an indication of what they are capable of.
“They are more than capable of putting on an outstanding performance against us. They’ve got game-changing players in different positions so we will have to be on our mettle,” he said.