Toulon - New
Toulon wing Chris Ashton admitted on Wednesday he had shut the door on
his England career with a move to the Top 14, but said he was ready to
carry on showboating.
The 30-year-old Englishman, a convert from rugby league who holds the
European Cup try-scoring record of 37, also notched up 19 tries in 39
Tests for England between 2010-14.
But Ashton has managed to rub up various coaches, players and large
swathes of fans the wrong way despite his stellar performances for
English and European champions Saracens.
In signing a three-year contract with Toulon, Ashton has put paid to a
future international call-up given England's refusal to pick
"Obviously that ended something if anything I had going with England international rugby," he said.
"Contacts with Toulon started relatively soon after I got banned."
Ashton was sidelined for 13 weeks last season for biting, having picked up a 10-week ban the season previous for eye gouging.
"I saw it as an opportunity that arose at that time and something I asked Saracens to let me think about."
Asked whether he had been in touch with England coach Eddie Jones,
Ashton said: "No, I think he did ring and leave a message, but I haven't
spoken to him about this. I think his decision was already made up
before anyway, after the time I got banned.
"Me coming here was a clean start for me, a refresh, and I knew that
would cancel out England, but obviously I was ready for a change."
Ashton insisted he
would stick with his trademark swallow dives to score tries despite the
act infuriating so many rugby traditionalists.
"Yes, definitely I understand it (annoying some people)," he acknowledged.
"But there are two sides to it. For every child or kid that comes
over to me and loves it, (that) outweighs someone who doesn't."
Ashton said the deal to move to Toulon had been a golden chance for
him and his family, but denied economics were the driving factor.
"I think it was the whole package, it was the timing of the decision.
I had a great five years at Saracens and I thought I was ready for a
change," he said.
"The financial decision was part of it but was definitely not a major part of it.
"Seeing the players who have previously played here and players who
are in the team currently made it an easy decision for me. I wanted to
come and be a part of that.
"Watching the team on TV, many a player would agree with me that it's an amazing place to play rugby."
Former France scrum-half Fabien Galthie has taken over as head coach
following a troubled year which saw Richard Cockerill take charge for
Toulon's run-in to the Top 14 final, which they lost to Clermont.
"Last year especially was a difficult season with a lot of change.
With Fabien here, from what I've seen, that will definitely change,"
"A start afresh, new faces, new challenges and it's up to me to prove myself."