Heard the one about the England player who could not bear watching his own team score tries? The Saracens winger Chris Ashton has revealed he felt compelled to leave the stadium early and drive home to Hertfordshire last weekend rather than stick around as his country racked up a half-century of points against Fiji.
Ashton, recalled to the starting line-up for Saturday's game against Australia after being suspended for the Fiji match, has admitted he was so jealous of his squad-mates Charlie Sharples and Ugo Monye he had to walk out with 20 minutes still to go. "It was so frustrating, I had to leave after 60 minutes. I couldn't watch it any more. I was pleased for Charlie but it was hard seeing so many tries being scored and not being able to be involved."
Ashton has not scored a try for England since England's Rugby World Cup pool game against Scotland over 13 months ago and acknowledges his try shortage is starting to get to him. "Of course I've thought about it. It's killing me not scoring for England."
England's head coach Stuart Lancaster is now hoping Ashton will unleash his pent-up emotions on the Wallabies, who have made four changes to the team thrashed 33-6 by France in Paris last week. The winger scored his first Test try in his country's 21-20 victory in Sydney in the 2010 summer tour and scored two in the record 35-18 win at Twickenham the same year.
"Chris was hugely frustrated last week, particularly given the way the game unfolded," said Lancaster. "Unfortunately he's had a tough lesson to learn but he's back and he's been training really well. He's a proven try-scorer over the long haul, his work-rate off the ball is outstanding and defensively he's improved massively. I think he'll add real value to us."
Ashton is one of only four survivors from Martin Johnson's England XV which kicked off this corresponding fixture two years ago. Only five of this Wallabies team featured in that game but there is a more solid look to the side announced by Robbie Deans. Berrick Barnes and Digby Ioane returnin place of Mike Harris and the injured Pat McCabe, while Ben Alexander and Sitaleki Timani replace Sekope Kepu and Kane Douglas.
Lancaster has kept faith with Tom Palmer in the second-row, with the latter's Wasps' club-mate Joe Launchbury once again named on the bench. "There's always a special rivalry between England and Australia and I'm sure it'll be the same this weekend," said Lancaster.
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