Ashton dreams of England recall despite bite ban

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:50
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INTERVIEW: Saracens wing Chris Ashton says he is still hoping to win an England recall despite his 13-week ban for biting Northampton's Alex Waller.

Ashton was suspended by the English Rugby Football Union last week following his clash with Waller during Saracens' Premiership victory over Northampton on September 17.

The 29-year-old was found guilty in an RFU hearing, with Saracens opting not to appeal the ruling.

Ashton continues to maintain his innocence, but on Tuesday said he will no longer contest the issue as he focuses on fighting for his international future.

After blowing his bid for a Six Nations recall earlier this year due to a 10-week ban for making contact with the eye of Ulster centre Luke Marshall in January, Ashton will now miss the November internationals as well.

But he still hopes to add to his 39 England caps, the last of which came in June 2014.

"My clear ambition is first to regain my place in the Saracens team and then to regain my place in the England side," said Ashton, who is free to play again on December 19.

"It may seem a long journey back from the despair of last week's judgement but I will do everything in my power to get back to where, in my heart, I feel I belong."

While admitting his frustration at his latest sanction, Ashton also paid tribute to the faith shown in him by Saracens.

"It would be an understatement to say I was disappointed last week to be handed a 13-week ban by the RFU, my second significant ban of 2016," Ashton told Saracens' official website.

"I told the disciplinary panel that I did not bite the Northampton prop, just as I had told the panel in January that I did not make contact with the eyes of the Ulster centre.

"Both panels chose to accept the opposing version of events. I did not agree with either verdict but I must and do accept the sanctions.

"There is no place for biting or gouging in rugby, and World Rugby are 100 percent correct in seeking to eradicate these actions.

"I would like to thank publicly Saracens for their support during these times."

Agence France-Presse