Chris Ashton: ‘Going away to spend the year in France really helped me’

The wing last played for England five seasons ago but could make a comeback against South Africa

Few England players have known such highs and lows as Chris Ashton. Either he is airborne over a try-line somewhere or else wondering why things have gone so spectacularly awry. There is no cosy mezzanine level – and probably never will be – for rugby’s modern version of Icarus.

Small wonder he sounds thrilled to be back with England, regardless of the rain that drenched Eddie Jones’s squad at their Algarve training camp on Friday morning. His last international appearance, in a heavy 36-13 defeat to New Zealand in Hamilton five seasons ago, is now such a distant memory he admits a Test recall this autumn will effectively feel like a debut.

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