Former England skipper Lewis Moody insists boss Stuart Lancaster got it spot on by recalling Saracen Chris Ashton for last weekend’s game with Australia.
England may have crashed 20-14 against Australia at Twickenham, opting not to take four kicks at goal inside the final 22 minutes, but Moody refused to point the finger of blame at Lancaster’s backline.
Ashton has a formidable record against Australia, touching down three times in three tests ahead of the weekend and despite now going ten games without an international try – the former Northampton Saint still has an impressive haul of 15 scores in 26 games for England.
Despite scoring against Fiji, Harlequin Ugo Monye was controversially dropped for the clash with Australia but Moody is convinced the aura around Ashton dictates he is a must to start when fit and firing.
“It was a no brainer to get Chris Ashton back in the team after his suspension, even if it might seem a tad harsh on Ugo Monye,” said Moody, who is an LV= Cup ambassador.
“He is a world-class player, a world class finisher and is very important to England.
“I also think he needs to be in an around that England team even if he is going through a bit of a dry spell because he is a character at the end of the day.
“He is larger than life and isn’t shy and makes sure people know he is around.
“This in turn means defences focus on him and this perhaps frees up some space for others.
“But there is no doubt Chris is a great rugby player and he has a great desire to win which will undoubtedly see him over the try-line sooner rather than later.”
England now face South Africa at Twickenham this weekend, before finishing off their autumn campaign against New Zealand.
Ranking points and seedings for the 2015 World Cup are firmly up for grabs and Moody has called on Lancaster to keep faith with Ashton against the Springboks and the mighty All Blacks. “I have been an admirer of Chris Ashton for some time and I am delighted that he was given his chance,” added Moody.
“Chris is a really great guy to have around the squad — always bubbly, always positive and always quick with the banter.
“You need characters in your squad and he is definitely one of those.
“As a player you always keep your feet firmly on the ground and Chris does that. He realises the team is the most important thing.”
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