Chris Ashton heads shortlist for ERC European player of the year

Saracens wing Chris Ashton heads the shortlist to be crowned the ERC European player of the year

England wing Chris Ashton Photo: Handout

Chris Ashton heads a trio of Saracens players to make the shortlist for the ERC European player of the year award.

The Saracens wing set a new record of 11 tries in the Heineken Cup after a brace in the Londoners’s thumping 46-6 win over Clermont Auvergne on Saturday.

Ashton has played himself into contention for an England recall for their summer tour of New Zealand.

The Red Rose star is joined on the shortlist by Sarries hooker Schalk Brits and flanker Jacques Burger, both of whom put in huge defensive shifts at Twickenham and have been at the heart of getting their side to a Heineken Cup final against reigning champions Toulon in Cardiff next month.

Last year’s winner, Jonny Wilkinson is again on the shortlist of five names after captaining—and kicking—Toulon to another final.

England flanker Steffon Armitage completes the list for his huge performances in the tournament, leading to talk of a recall, despite the Rugby Football Union’s policy of not selecting exiled players.

The award has never been won by a non-European player since it was launched in 2010, with Munster legend Ronan O’Gara the first recipient in 2010 for his outstanding performances throughout the tournament’s history.

Leinster’s Sean O’Brien scooped the award in 2011 followed by team-mate Rob Kearney in 2012 and Wilkinson in 2013.

The 2014 winner will be announced before next month’s final at the Millennium Stadium.

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