Saracens and England winger Chris Ashton has spoken of his pride of playing for his country, ahead of the tour of New Zealand.
In an exclusive interview with GiveMeSport, he said: “One of my goals when I came across from league was wanting to play for England. It's such a pull for rugby league players. The following that the England team gets worldwide union, compared to league, there’s no comparison in the following.”
The tour comes off the back of a strong season for Saracens and Ashton, getting to the Heineken Cup final and the Premiership final. He is relishing the timing of England's tour: “I know we’ve got to get out there as soon as possible, you’re coming straight off being fit and ready to go straight into a game against the All Blacks.”
Ashton has made 37 caps for England, his most impressive feat so far being the four tries he scored against Italy in 2011, equalling the record set 97 years ago. But he still recalls the 'surreal' feeling of his debut at the Stade de France.
"There isn’t a better place to play I don’t think, I mean apart from Twickenham. It was ideal, there was nothing to lose could just go out there and play," he explains. "I loved every minute of it it was a bit surreal, the stadium I had never been to before it was almost like a computer game, just a bit false."
The Saracens man could have won the game for England on that day but his lack of experience let him down. "I had an opportunity to win the game to be honest but I decided to kick it instead of running round someone, but you learn from those experiences pretty quickly."