England 57-26 Barbarians, Twickenham
Ashton oozing with confidence again
May 28, 2012
England winger Chris Ashton races in to score the first of his tries at a sun-baked Twickenham © Getty Images
The high-profile Saracens recruit had not scored for England in six Tests and a hat-trick, even in a non-cap game, was the ideal confidence boost ahead of the summer tour of South Africa.
"I'm feeling confident again," Ashton said. "The team is a bit more settled and it was pretty much the Six Nations back line out there today. We knew the game would be open, we moved the ball and I thought we looked pretty good doing it."
Ashton's trademark swallow dive celebration failed to surface on a sun-baked day at English rugby's HQ after a conversation with England head coach Stuart Lancaster. "I had a conversation a while ago with Stuart Lancaster about the dive and we decided right place, right time," Ashton said. "Maybe in a World Cup final but I didn't think today was the right time or the right place."
The 25-year-old had revealed the end of the 'Ash Splash' celebration earlier in the day. "It's done with," he told the Mail on Sunday. "I've knocked it on the head. I see it as the end of an era for me."
The celebration had its last outing in what proved to be his final appearance for Northampton ahead of a much-publicised move to Premiership rivals Saracens. He would later leave the field with a back injury but insists the two events were not related.
"The back injury had nothing to do with the dive," Ashton told the newspaper. "I'd injured the back during the week and there was always a good chance I wouldn't come through the whole game. But it was a good place to pull off my last swallow dive, in my last game for Northampton in front of the home fans after my last try for the club.
"Some people have enjoyed it over the past few years and some haven't. Some have used it against me, as well. I'm very aware of this."
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