Chris Ashton can light up England’s attack this autumn and force his way into Eddie Jones’ World Cup plans, according to Jason Robinson.
The Sale Sharks flyer is back in the international fold for the first time in four years and could make his return in Saturday’s opening autumn Test against South Africa.
After a year away in France, where he scored 24 tries in 23 games, Ashton has been shoe-horned into the team by head coach Jones – who is desperate to reinvigorate an England side who have suffered a torrid 12 months.
An embarrassing fifth-place finish in the Six Nations was followed by a summer defeat to South Africa and Jones is under pressure to turn things around.
England have a wealth of options available to them on the wing, and Ashton is competing with Jonny May, Jack Nowell and Joe Cokanasiga for a place this autumn.
But Robinson, who won the World Cup with England in 2003, insists Ashton can make an immediate impact.
“We know what Chris is about and I am sure he will fit seamlessly back into the squad,” he said.
“He has such great attributes, raw ability but now he can mix that with experience. He will be a senior voice in that dressing room.
“It is just a shame that he has had a slow start to the season because of the ban but he is a try-scorer, there is no doubt about that.
“England’s midfield is inventive and Ashton is still one of the best try-scorers around, there is no doubt about that – so he will licking his lips.
“He could be a big addition heading into the World Cup year. He is a special talent and it is exciting to see him back in the fold.”
With the 2019 World Cup in Japan now less than 12 months away, the scramble is on for a place in Jones’ final squad.
Injuries have played their part, especially in the forwards, and Robinson insists they have a tough autumn ahead.
New Zealand, Japan and Australia also visit Twickenham but the former full-back believes results do not matter – it’s all about performances.
“Their confidence looked so low in the Six Nations so now it is all about building that back up and regaining that swagger. They can do it. You don’t become a bad team overnight and there is no doubt Eddie Jones will have them fired up,” he added.
“There is a lot expected of them. Hopefully they have learned and can turn things round. The autumn internationals are about performances more than results. That is what we need to see from England.”
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