England star signs with Northampton Saints

England Rugby newest star Chris Ashton has signed a new two year contract with Northampton Saints less than 24 hours after he was named in Martin Johnson’s England squad for the SixNations.


Northampton Saints has been the only club in the 22-year-old winger’s burgeoning rugby union career since arriving from Wigan Warriors in the summer of 2007.


Ashton, who was yesterday called up into the England Senior Elite Playing Squad for the 2010 Six Nations, made his mark with his first touch of the ball, scoring against London Welsh in the opening game of the 2007/08 season, and he has gone from strength to strength in the two-and-a-half years since.


After breaking the record for league tries scored in a single season in National League One, Ashton followed that up by being the 2008/09 European Challenge Cup’s leading try scorer.


But it is 2009/10 that has very much been his year. He has scored 15 tries in his 16 games, including a hat trick at Newcastle and last-minute match winning efforts against Bath and London Irish. Furthermore he is the leading try scorer in both the Guinness Premiership (9) and Heineken Cup (5), with an Anglo Welsh LV= Cup score against Saracens making up the rest of his total.


So far he has 67 tries from his 62 appearances which, with a conversion kicked on the last day of the 2007/08 season, takes his current points total to 337.

 

This season Ashton has also won two successive Let Yourself Grow Player of the Month awards.

Ashton, who earned his club cap when he passed the 50-appearance mark against Munster in October, had no hesitation in signing on again at Franklin’s Gardens.


“The Saints has been a great club to be a part of over the past couple of years,” he said.


“I’ve settled here and there is a great bunch of lads. It was a hard year last year as I came to terms with the English Premiership , but the coaches stuck with me and are helping me get better at rugby union.”


“I’m still learning though and I believe I can improve a lot.


“It’s exciting to be at a club that is going places. We’re ambitious to be one of the top clubs in England and in Europe and can only get better over the next few years.”


Director of rugby Jim Mallinder (pictured) is very happy that Ashton has made the commitment.


“Chris has worked very hard on his game, especially over the past 18 months,” he said.


“After a fantastic season in National League One, he had a quiet first year in the Guinness Premiership .”


“But he spent a lot of time learning the game and honing the small details that didn’t get found out at the lower level and he is starting to reap the benefits now.


“He is both a natural finisher and a good reader of where an attack is going, so that if support is needed he is there to provide it.”


“At 22 he is still a young player with plenty to offer and I’m delighted that he has decided to stay and be a part of the Saints.”

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