'Hot-headed' Ashton prepares to take out frustration on Wallabies

England back returns to side after missing Fiji match and says sitting it out was hard to take

Sixty minutes of one-sided rugby was just about all Fijian flesh and blood could stand at Twickenham last weekend, but the outclassed tourists from the South Seas were not the only ones who felt they could take no more as Charlie Sharples stretched England's lead to 42-5 with a quarter of the game left to play. Chris Ashton, the man forced to make way for Sharples after another of his regular brushes with the disciplinary class, had also seen enough.

"I was so frustrated, I just couldn't watch any longer," he said yesterday, revealing how he left his seat in the West Stand, headed swiftly for the car park, jumped behind the wheel and drove home to St Albans. "Don't get me wrong: I was pleased for Charlie," he continued. "But just sitting there watching tries being scored and not being involved… it had been a tough two weeks for me and I'd had my fill."

Tomorrow, there is potential for more frustration, albeit of a different kind, when the Wallabies come knocking on the red-rose door. Ashton has not scored an international try in nine games – the last time he celebrated a crossing of the opposition whitewash was in the World Cup pool game against Scotland in Auckland more than 13 months ago – and while he is happy enough to be back in England's starting line-up, the drought has left him feeling seriously parched.

"I'm not quite at the Mark Cueto stage, who was in a really bad place for a while," the Saracens back said with a malevolent grin, referring to a fellow England wing who also found tries hard to come by and failed to see the funny side of it – especially as Ashton was scoring for fun at the time and took great delight in mentioning it to his colleague at every opportunity. "I do think about it, though, and it's beginning to kill me."

Ashton's recall for the meeting with Australia was easy to foresee, even while he was serving his one-match "totting up" ban for a series of illegal challenges during his early-season Premiership appearances for Saracens. Stuart Lancaster, the head coach, would have needed a very good reason to ignore the best finisher in the country, despite his temperamental foibles and failures of self-control – especially with the Wallabies in town. Ashton ran in his first Test try against Australia in Sydney in 2010, and his most memorable Test try against the same opposition at Twickenham later that year.

"That score is still a big focus for people," he said, recalling the joyous length-of-the-field romp that contributed handsomely to his side's 35-18 victory. "But they don't come along too often, tries like that, and I have a feeling things won't happen that way for me this weekend. There are similarities between the two games, however. We were quite a young side in 2010 and played with a 'no fear' mentality. It's the same this time. A lot of players are still in single figures when it comes to caps."

Lancaster is well aware of that fact: in confirming his largely unchanged line-up yesterday, he made a number of references to the hundreds of caps' worth of Test know-how that will underpin the Wallaby challenge. The coach needs his more battle-scarred foot soldiers – outside-half Toby Flood, prop Dan Cole, lock Tom Palmer and Ashton himself – to bring the best of themselves to this contest, especially when it comes to making correct decisions at important moments.

"We're working very hard on discipline," Lancaster said. "We don't want to be giving away cheap penalties, still less losing players to yellow cards." If he was thinking specifically of the scrum-half Danny Care's entirely avoidable trip to the sin-bin during the Fiji match, he was also aiming his comments at Ashton, who has proved alarmingly adept at putting himself on the wrong side of referees.

"Last week was a tough lesson for Chris," the coach went on. "You don't want to give away your international shirt, to give another player an opportunity. Part of his problem has been technical and part of it has been down to hot-headedness. His great strength is his competitive instinct: he's a winner and there are times when frustration kicks in. He needs to channel that frustration into positive action. It's a pretty simple message, but it is the message."

Whether or not Ashton takes it on board remains to be seen: he describes himself as "a lot older but not more sensible" when pressed on the question of his maturity, and the imminent confrontation with the high-calibre Wallaby back Digby Ioane, whose dismissive comments about England's "pretty" wings have been well reported recently, will reveal much about his current temperamental condition.

This much is clear: Ashton revels in his status as a top-class international wing and cannot bear the thought of being on the outside looking in. His character dictates that he must learn his lessons the hard way, but learn them he will. Either that, or Lancaster will look to more reliable alternatives and make no apology for doing so. The coach's cruel-to-be-kind handling of the errant Care has paid dividends, despite last weekend's visit to the cooler, and he will not hesitate to put his best wing through the same purgatory if he considers it necessary. If Ashton is back in the side for now, only he can ensure it stays that way.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"