Six Nations 2012: Chris Ashton heaps praise on Stuart Lancaster
England wing Chris Ashton insists the squad are keen to see interim boss Stuart Lancaster handed the role permanently
Chris Ashton has hailed the impact of interim coach Stuart Lancaster during England’s successful Six Nations campaign, which he claims surpassed all expectations.
Ashton pointed to a united camp following England’s four victories out of five. He told The Sport Review: “That was Stuart’s aim, to get us all together and build friendships, which is pretty hard to do when you’ve only got five days to go until your first game.
“He [Lancaster] said at the start of it that he wants to make it an experience for everyone, so you’ve just got to give all the credit to him for being able to turn it round and sadly the Wales game stopped us from winning the tournament for him.”
The wing says the whole squad wants Lancaster to get the post on a permanent basis.
“He doesn’t know and we don’t know what will happen but it will be very interesting to see,” he continued. “I’ve really enjoyed the project he’s been doing here and I hope that he will get to stay on.”
He added: “I think he’s done a really good job, he’s brought in new faces, freshened everything up. I’ve been hugely impressed by what he’s done in such a short space of time, turning it round in eight weeks. I think this win [against Ireland] has massively helped his cause.”
Ashton also believes that the momentum built up under Lancaster would be lost if the interim coach were to leave his post.
“I think it would be waste. It’s gone much better than expected and I think the Wales match came just too soon for us. As a team we’ve done the best out of a bad situation.”
The squad is in a positive frame of mind but the narrow defeat by Wales at Twickenham remains England’s only blip in a otherwise impressive campaign.
Ashton added: “It’s been a really successful campaign. We were unlucky not to get away with that [against Wales] and we then could have been on for a Grand Slam.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be but it was important to end on such a high, which we managed to do against Ireland.”
Looking ahead, Ashton added: “We’ve got a couple of months back at our clubs and then off to South Africa which will be a massive test for us. It’s crucial for us to take the positives and build on the wins having finished on a high.”
The 24-year-old failed to score a try this campaign in contrast to his highly successful 2011 – but he insists he is happy to put the team first: “I think the games really haven’t suited my style of play but as long as we’re winning I really don’t care.”