Eddie Jones right to pick Marland Yarde ahead of Chris Ashton
Eddie Jones, the England rugby coach, announced his squads for the forthcoming match against Wales and the subsequent tour to Australia for the three match series there. The most notable omission form the touring party was the Saracen’s winger, Chris Ashton.
Jones only picked three wingers for the tour, but that he picked Marland Yarde ahead of Ashton has left many people surprised.
It’s hard to deny that Ashton has been the better of the two players this season.
That said, there are parts to Ashton’s game that continue to undermine his ability to be picked again at international level.
Take the Saracen’s win against Leicester Tigers on Saturday. There were two incidents that will have registered in Jones’ mind as problematic.
The first was when the Tigers scored their first try, shortly after half time.
Telusa Veainu was released down the left flank and was left to run the ball in unopposed over the try line.
He should have been being pushed by Ashton towards the touchline. It’s questionable whether the try could have been stopped, but Veainu should have at least been pressured towards the corner flag.
He wasn’t though.
Chris Ashton simply didn’t bother. Instead of putting his body on the line and trying to make a last ditch tackle, he stopped running and started waving his arms at the referee to claim a forward pass.
He was probably right about the forward pass and the try shouldn’t have been allowed, but that’s irrelevant to the fact that you have to play to the whistle. You don’t stop defending and start waving your hands at the referee to try and get a decision.
Who does he think he is, a footballer?
The second incident in the same game was later on in the second half. There was a bit of handbags between a few players and, instead of staying out of it, Ashton made the unnecessary effort to come right off his wing on the other side of the pitch to get involved.
Even after it had all been broken up he was still giving it the verbals and the referee had to stand him down.
It reminded me of the incident in Saracen’s match against Bath where he got far too involved and was pushing for Anthony Watson to get red carded. Eddie Jones even singled him out about that behaviour. Clearly it made no difference.
And so it is these examples that highlight why I think Jones hasn’t picked Ashton. Rein in these flaws to his game and there’s no doubt he could be in the mix again. The fact that Jones hasn’t picked him now though makes it seem unlikely he’s going to be a mainstay of any future Eddie Jones England squad.