England v New Zealand: Chris Ashton makes first start in four years

Chris Ashton

England v New Zealand
Venue: Twickenham Date: 10 November Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live (build-up from 14:30) and live text commentary on BBC Sport website. Highlights on BBC Two at 19:30 GMT.

England boss Eddie Jones says he has a ‘gut feeling’ Chris Ashton will flourish against New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Sale wing will start his first Test for England in more than four years.

Ashton returned to the England fold with a cameo off the bench in the 12-11 win over South Africa last weekend.

“I think playing against New Zealand suits him – it’s just a gut feeling. He can sniff a try,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 live.

“He’s great at running inside support lines, and maybe there might be a few opportunities there.”

Ashton seemed destined never to play for his country again when he signed for Toulon at the end of 2016, after a series of suspensions and omissions from the England squad.

But Jones feels the 31-year-old can make a difference on and off the field.

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“I’ve always rated him very highly and always felt he had something to offer,” Jones added.

“But probably having worked with him now I appreciate what he can bring to the team – he’s quite a character.

“Sometimes he is involved in some trouble, but we’ve managed to keep his nose clean for the time being, so fingers crossed.”

Elsewhere in the starting XV, prop Ben Moon replaces Alec Hepburn and flanker Sam Underhill starts instead of the injured Tom Curry, making a total of three changes from the side that last weekend.

There is no place for Manu Tuilagi in the matchday squad, with Bath number eight Zach Mercer also missing out.

Despite his side starting as underdogs, Jones insists the expectation remains the same as ever.

“The expectation for Saturday is no different to any other Test match,” he said.

It is the first meeting between the two teams since the All Blacks secured a narrow 24-21 win at Twickenham in November 2014. In total, New Zealand have won 32 of 40 Tests against England.

Their last defeat to England came in December 2012, when Ashton scored a try in a 38-21 win for the hosts at Twickenham.

Ashton, 31, has made only one appearance for club side Sale this season, scoring a hat-trick against Connacht after his debut was delayed by a suspension for a tip-tackle in a pre-season friendly.

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He joined the club in the summer after a successful one-year stint in France where he scored a record 24 tries in a Top 14 season.

He was named in Jones’ first Six Nations squad in 2016 while at Saracens, but missed the tournament through a 10-week eye-gouging ban.

Ashton has a total of 19 international tries in 40 appearances for England.

England: Elliot Daly; Chris Ashton, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (co-captain), Ben Youngs; Ben Moon, Dylan Hartley (co-captain), Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Brad Shields, Sam Underhill, Mark Wilson.

Replacements: Jamie George, Alec Hepburn, Harry Williams, Charlie Ewels, Courtney Lawes, Danny Care, George Ford, Jack Nowell.

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