Chris Ashton ditches 'Ash splash' after discussion with England coach Stuart Lancaster


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The Independent Online

Chris Ashton revealed he shelved his trademark 'Ash splash' try-scoring celebration after a conversation with England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Ashton rediscovered his scoring touch yesterday with a hat-trick in England's 57-26 victory over the Barbarians at a sun-baked Twickenham.

But all three tries were taken soberly, with Ashton dotting the ball down rather than throwing himself flamboyantly to the ground.

"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."

Lancaster is anxious not to dull Ashton's natural exuberance but his message was that there is no room for self-publicity in the team environment.

Martin Johnson had similarly urged Ashton to curb the swallow dive - his concern was that the ball might be dislodged - but without the same success as Lancaster.

Ashton said the dive had been consigned to a previous era - and he launched the new one with a top-class performance and a hat-trick against the Barbarians.

The new Saracens wing 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."

Lancaster is "pretty confident" Manu Tuilagi will escape censure for an illegal tackle on Danny Care in the Premiership final and be available for the tour to South Africa.

England also expect Toby Flood to be fit after he pulled out of the final with a groin problem and for Phil Dowson to recover from a blow to the head.

Tuilagi was penalised in the second minute of Leicester's Premiership final defeat to Harlequins yesterday for lifting Care off the Twickenham turf in a tackle.

Rugby's disciplinary authorities are hot on incidents such as this and the citing officer has four working days from receipt of the match video.

But Lancaster is hopeful Tuilagi will not be cited and therefore be free for England's three-Test series with the Springboks.

"We have not heard anything. Looking at the incident I am pretty confident he will be fine but we will wait and see," Lancaster said.

"Phil Dowson had a bang to the head but he is up and walking around in the changing room. We have some time before the first Test but at the moment he is looking okay.

"Toby hurt his groin kicking prior to the game and Leicester chose not to risk him. He will turn up in camp tomorrow and we fully expect to take him on the tour."