Toulon wing Chris Ashton will return to his North-West roots after signing for Sale Sharks.
The veteran revealed in June he still harboured hopes of returning to the England international set-up ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and his eligibility for selection by head coach Eddie Jones now appears without obstacles after Ashton ended his three-year stint in Toulon.
Taking the decision to cross back over the English Channel to home shores, Ashton said he was grateful to join a Sale squad growing in strength.
“This really feels like ‘going home,'” Ashton told the club’s website. “I’ve always thought, in the back of my mind, that I’d return to the North to play rugby and I’m delighted to be joining Sale Sharks.
“They have developed an increasingly strong squad, including Jono Ross, whom I remember in his younger days at Saracens. He left and has become a considerably more mature player!
“In Toulon, I’ve added to the experience I gained at Saracens. There are many players at Sale Sharks with whom I’m looking forward to playing.
“I’m not coming to rest on my laurels: I feel I’ve got a lot of rugby left in me and would like to make an impact and help to take the club to their winning ways of 2006.”
Sale Sharks’ Director of Rugby Steve Diamond added: “Chris is obviously a World class signing. When we were looking around, following the announcement of the return of Rohan Janse van Rensburg, we wanted to keep the makeup of our Back Three as exciting as we can.
“Chris wanted to return to this country to fulfil his potential with England again, and we thought that he’d fit in well here.
“He’s a multi-talented, superb professional who has experienced the benefit of the successful culture at Saracens.
“We look forward to giving him a warm welcome in a fortnight’s time. He’ll join the exciting players already at the club and if we secure another two or three of our forward targets, we’ll have a squad capable of reaching a top four placing.
“We’ll continue to offer our supporters top-level entertainment at the A.J.Bell Stadium.”
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