Ashton named in England squad for first time since 2016

Ashton scored a hat-trick for the Barbarians against England in May

Sale winger Chris Ashton has been named in the England squad for the first time since 2016.

The 31-year-old, who last month returned to the Premiership from French Top 14 side Toulon, has not played for his country under Eddie Jones.

He was part of the Australian's first England squad in 2016, before serving bans for biting and eye-gouging.

Regular captain Dylan Hartley is also in the pre-season training squad as he continues his comeback from concussion.

Hartley will also be part of the three-day training camp in Teddington, despite not having played since March, missing the end of the season and the June series defeat in South Africa.

Jones described Ashton as an "exceptional player".

"I think we have seen with his form at Saracens, then at Toulon, he has played exceedingly well," he added.

"He's come back to England because he wants to play for England so he has got the right desire and the right attitude. It will be good to work with him."

On Hartley, Jones said: "He's had a good period with Northampton and he's back on the field training. He's not getting any symptoms of his problem with concussion so everything is progressing well."

Ashton, who has scored 19 tries in 39 Tests for England, has not played for his country since 2014.

But he has clearly impressed Jones in recent months, breaking the Top 14 try-scoring record last season, before scoring a hat-trick for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham in May.

He secured an early release from his Toulon contract in a bid to resurrect his England career in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, and has been rewarded with a place in Jones' squad.

After just a single defeat throughout 2016 and 2017, England's form has dipped alarmingly in 2018, with three victories in nine matches.

But Jones and the Rugby Football Union remain confident the side can arrest their slump before next year's global showpiece in Japan.

England will play autumn internationals against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia later this year.

The pre-season squad includes three youngsters who played in the recent World Under-20 Championship final - Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), Joel Kpoku (Saracens) and Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers).

Saracens' Michael Rhodes, who is South African-born, only qualified for England on residency grounds in July and also makes his first training squad.

England still have an extensive injury list, with 14 players named as unavailable for selection.

There is no place for England's most-capped scrum-half Danny Care, who was rested during the summer tour, with Wasps-bound flanker Brad Shields and injured Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola also missing.

Full squad

Backs: Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Nathan Earle (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Piers Francis (Northampton Saints), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers), Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Spencer (Saracens), Ben Te'o (Worcester Warriors), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Northampton Saints), Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Paul Hill (Northampton Saints), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joel Kpoku (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Michael Rhodes (Saracens), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors), Will Spencer (Leicester Tigers), Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)

Not considered for selection due to injury/fitness/other: Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Danny Care (Harlequins) Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), George Kruis (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Brad Shields (Wasps), Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

Source: BBC Rugby Union News

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By adamreeves / Administrator, bbp_keymaster on Aug 02, 2018