Chris Ashton signs deal to join Saracens


Chris Ashton will join Saracens next season after being attracted by the
opportunity of working with his former Wigan rugby league idol Andy

Ashton, who made his successful cross-code switch from Wigan to Northampton in 2007, met with Farrell, the Saracens head coach, before signing his long-term deal with the Aviva Premiership champions.

But the 24-year-old's move from Franklin's Gardens is not without controversy.

Ashton had decided on his return from the World Cup that he wanted to explore his options and it is understood he never entered negotiations with Northampton.

The England wing has insisted he remains committed to the Saints - but at this stage it is uncertain whether he will play for the club again.

Ashton has been dropped for Northampton's Heineken Cup clash with Munster on Saturday, amid rumours of a training ground row with director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

"We're obviously disappointed that Chris has decided he wants to play his rugby elsewhere," Mallinder said in a statement.

"We have known for some time that Chris was looking elsewhere and had been planning to use that part of the salary cap by strengthening our squad in a number of positions.

"We've also got several good wingers at the club who have all been pushing for a first team spot this season, the likes of Jamie Elliott, Vasily Artemyev, Scott Armstrong, Paul Diggin and Noah Cato, plus Anders Mogensen in the academy who has been playing well on loan for Cambridge.

"They are all part of our plans going forward and will all contribute massively to the continued development of the Saints."

Ashton has scored a remarkable 90 tries for Northampton in 106 appearances since his move to Franklin's Gardens and he has built a reputation for being one of the game's deadliest finishers.

At Test level, Ashton has touched down 15 times in just 18 appearances for England, including four tries against Italy at Twickenham during last season's Six Nations title campaign.

Ashton found himself at the centre of controversies off and on the field during 2011 and he has been criticised for chasing the money by moving to Saracens.

Mallinder said last month that Northampton would not stand in the way of a player who had a "massive financial offer" on the table.

Those close to Ashton insist otherwise, arguing that had money been the motive for his move then Northampton would have been engaged in talks in a bid to drive up his salary.

"Chris felt he wanted to explore his options and this will be a new experience," said a source.

"Chris is a Wigan lad at heart. Andy Farrell is a legend in Wigan and Chris has always looked up to people like him. That influenced his decision.

"Saracens are champions and they are becoming a force in Europe."

Ashton will get a chance to work with Farrell while on England duty from next week, with the Saracens head coach part of Stuart Lancaster's interim management team for the Six Nations.

Northampton meet Saracens at Vicarage Road on March 4, when Ashton will be with England, but the two clubs could lock horns in the end-of-season play-offs.

"I've decided to join Saracens from next season... until then it's all about Saints," Ashton insisted on Twitter.

His arrival at Saracens next season will strengthen an already powerful back division that contains fellow England squad members David Strettle, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, Alex Goode and Charlie Hodgson.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot