Ashton sets sights on trip Down Under

CHRIS ASHTON has set his sights on starring in England’s tour of Australasia this summer after “slotting in” for his Test debut against France on Saturday night.

The Northampton wing clearly enjoyed his first taste of international rugby at the Stade de France and capped a fine display by setting up club-mate Ben Foden for the only try of the game in a 12-10 defeat.

It brought an encouraging end to an otherwise unconvincing Six Nations campaign and raised spirits for the five-match tour of Australia and New Zealand in June, which includes two Tests with the Wallabies.

And Ashton admits he is raring to go after revelling in the atmosphere of Paris on Saturday night.

“It is what every player wants to do and I have got a chance to do that now and I am not going to let it go,” Ashton said. “It is a different scale, playing in front of 80,000 people at the Stade de France. This is where I want to be every time that England play. I felt as if I just slotted in.

“I am looking forward to the tour. I have to keep playing at Northampton and hopefully I will get onto it.”

The inclusion of Ashton and Foden gave the England back division extra dynamism and France defence coach Dave Ellis believes coach Martin Johnson must now “bite the bullet” and throw in more young players if England are to continue to improve.

“They have a tough tour ahead but they have nothing to lose in the southern hemisphere. They should give young players a go and see how they come out at the other end,” he said.

8 June Australia Barbarians, Perth
12 June 1st Test v Australia, Perth
15 June Australia Barbarians, Gosford
19 June 2nd Test v Australia, Sydney
23 June New Zealand Maori, Napier