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England star admits Saracens' innovation inspired him to leave Northampton Saints
Chris Ashton admits the unique approach of Saracens was the biggest reason behind his summer move from Northampton Saints.
The England international winger was attracted to the club after coming up against them and hearing about the innovative ideas they adopt, such as staging games at Wembley and team-bonding trips to events like the Munich Beer festival.
Ashton said: "I think the fact they do things differently to normal clubs attracted me to here. The culture of the place and the environment that they're in is a one off and I wanted be part of that.
"Through playing against them and watching them win the Premiership and coming close in the Heineken Cup, they're starting to get there and I think it shows by signing four players this year and having a lot of contract extensions, it shows they're going in the right direction by keeping the squad the same. They want to keep building by using the same lads.
"It's pretty much completely the opposite to Northampton to be honest. Training wise it's a very relaxed place. It was quite full on at Northampton but here it's relaxed and there are structures to do your own thing. The lads are quite welcoming and I've had no problem speaking to anyone. Everyone's been perfect with me so I'm enjoying it so far.
"It's been really good and really easy for me. They're a very welcoming club so it's been pretty seamless and I'd like to think I fit straight in. It helps knowing a few people from England. I came in a week early before the lads were in. I made a point of it so you don't attract yourself to the lads you already know.
"You need to throw yourself in with people you don't know. Joel Tomkins and Richard Wigglesworth were there but a lot of the lads I had no idea. It's a good changing room environment and meeting new people are some of the reasons why I came down here."
Ashton's decision to join the Men in Black led to him temporarily being dropped by the Saints in January after a bust up with the club. But the 25-year-old insists he left Franklin's Gardens amicably and will always appreciate his five-year stint with Northampton.
The prolific tryscorer said: "It ended all good with Northampton. It was unfortunate we had to go through a patch when I wasn't playing. It was unfortunate that I injured my back and wasn't able to play in the semi-final.
"That did my head in but that's how life goes. Five years there is a big part of my life so I thank them for that but I'd like to think we left on good terms."