EDDIE Jones’ growing selection worries could force him to bring Chris Ashton in from the international wilderness for South Africa.
That’s according to Lawrence Dallaglio who feels the England head coach may have to go to his Twickenham bosses and admit he will have to take an under strength touring squad which could lose the series 3-0!
Dallaglio insists that if the head coach is considering ‘parachuting’ Brad Shields into his party there’s no reason why Ashton should not follow suit.
Jones is deciding which of his injured or fatigued Lions players will be fit to get on the flight to the Southern Hemisphere at the end of next month.
England captain Dylan Hartley, Anthony Watson, Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes, Jonathan Joseph are already out of the tour.
Jones is confident he will win his battle with New Zealand Rugby over the availability of Kiwi-born flanker Shields after the player requested he be released from his contract. The 27-year-old is joining Wasps from Hurricanes at the end of this season and Jones wants to pick him for the three-Test series with the Springboks.
However, Dallaglio claims Ashton, 31, who won the last of his 39 caps nearly four years ago, should be higher on the Aussie’s pick list following his outstanding season with Toulon in Top 14.
RFU rules allow Jones to select players based overseas on ‘exceptional circumstances’ and World Cup winner Dallaglio says: “If Eddie is considering parachuting Shields into his squad for South Africa why not Chris Ashton too? Shields has not played a single game in English club rugby yet and has been playing in Super 8.
“Ashton chose to leave Saracens to play in France because Eddie and Stuart Lancaster would not pick him. But right now he is playing out of his skin.
“He has just broken the try scoring record in France and he’s definitely a player who could come in from the cold.
“Eddie has been critical of Chris in the past over his defensive qualities but there’s never been any doubt over his finishing.
“Chris is also vastly experienced and England will need players like him against a very pumped-up Springboks.
“This is going to be Eddie’s biggest challenge since taking up the England job. We could well see more than a few fresh faces, and other ones tha have been discarded in recent times, being asked to come back.”
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