Ashton clear of distractions

PA Sport
Chris Ashton is fully focused on England ahead of the Test series in South Africa
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Chris Ashton is fully focused on England ahead of the Test series in South Africa

Winger Chris Ashton has nothing on his mind but rugby as preparations for England's Test series in South Africa intensify.

The 25-year-old just wants to give his all on the field after a difficult season overshadowed by England's World Cup fiasco, an acrimonious change of clubs and a niggly back injury. Ashton is now fully fit and eager to play his part as Stuart Lancaster's new-look England seek to continue their renaissance following last autumn's dismal display in New Zealand.

The former Wigan rugby league star said: "It was always going to be difficult coming back after what went on at the World Cup - coaches going and staying and me changing clubs."

He added: "There were a lot of distractions and sometimes it is hard when you are trying to concentrate on rugby.

"That is done now and I can concentrate on rugby. Everyone knows their role and everyone knows how Stuart is going to be and how he operates, so everyone is pretty comfortable with it now and it is working well."

Ashton indicated a potential return to form after his back problems with a hat-trick of tries in England's 57-26 defeat of the Barbarians late last month.

The Springboks will be a much tougher proposition in the three-match series which begins in Durban on Saturday but Ashton feels physically ready for the challenge.

He said: "It [the back] is fine I have had a bit of rest with it.

"With the Barbarians it was good for me to get a run out with it and that was okay.

"It is good to play back at Twickenham and score tries but we knew exactly how the game was going to go and we know it is going to be a lot different this weekend."

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