CHRIS Ashton insists his ambition to star on the international stage has never burned more fiercely after being overlooked by coach Stuart Lancaster in this year’s Six Nations.
Despite being a part of England’s squad, winger Ashton’s only involvement to date has been on the training pitches at Pennyhill Park. He has been cut loose before every game and sent back to Saracens.
Starting in his place on the wings have been newcomers Jonny May and Jack Nowell, though the youngsters still await their first Test tries.
With fellow young guns Christian Wade and Marland Yarde in the mix as well, Ashton has a fight on his hands to get back into Lancaster’s plans.
However, it is a fight he is more than ready to take on, especially with a Rugby World Cup on home soil in a little over a year’s time.
Ashton is adamant the new kids on the block have given him the ammunition he needs to fire himself back into a Red Rose shirt.
“These things are tough but it is something every player has to go through in their career,” he said.
“There are so many things I want to accomplish, a Grand Slam, a World Cup on home soil, Lions, all new territory that I want to be involved in.
“I won a Six Nations before but never the Grand Slam. That’s right at the top of things I want to do, but first and foremost I have got to get back in the team.
“When you are on the wing, it is a lot more exposed. If you miss that tackle, it is a lot clearer to see than it is in the middle of the pitch.
“But that’s part of the game. You are accountable for it and it’s something I have to keep working on.”
Despite being just 26, Ashton is seen as the wise old head of England’s current set of wingers.
While he admits the international clock is ticking, he is not about to accept his time is over in an England shirt.
“It was always going to happen to me,” he said. “Other wingers are always going to come through. It’s just a matter of keeping yourself in the room and, thankfully, being at a club like a Saracens I have that chance.”
Matt Mullan, Chris Ashton and Henry Thomas are representing the England team on behalf of Marriott Hotels, official partner of England Rugby. See how Marriott is reinventing travel at TravelBrilliantly.co.uk