Saracens wing Chris Ashton crowned Premiership player of the month
Saracens wing Chris Ashton is named the Aviva Premiership player of the month
Chris Ashton’s desire and ability to reinvent himself has led to the Saracens wing being named Aviva Premiership player of the month for April.
Ashton was acclaimed by former England wing Austin Healey as he took the eighth and final award of the season, the second Saracens player to take the accolade after Jacques Burger.
“Chris has had a tough 12 months internationally. Some would curl up and take it. But he is the epitome of hard work and a burning desire to reinstate his England future,” said Healey.
“Since losing his white No 14 shirt he has reassessed his performance and worked on not only his weaknesses but his strengths. Ashton has a finishing ability that England need and now hopefully as the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month deserves that white shirt opportunity again,” said BT Sport analyst Healey.
Ashton beat an impressive shortlist of Sale Sharks lock Michael Paterson, Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, and his team-mates Jacques Burger and Schalk Brits to lift the prize, following in the footsteps of Sale Sharks outside-half Danny Cipriani.
Healey added: “Chris has really improved… he was weak in the air and as a right winger it’s a big part of your game chasing box kicks. He’s clearly worked on this now contesting when appropriate and timing his chase to hit the landing man when needed.
“Defence… He’s always been a great reader, but previously in the wide channels he’s had his problems. But these have been dealt with and his aggression in the contact area is standing out.”
“Now for the skills he’s always been good at; work rate … This has been immense in the past and even better now. He is constantly back on his feet and working to the wide channels after he’s been fishing around at the breakdown.. Personally I don’t think any winger in world rugby covers as much ground as him.
“Support play…Back to his best. He reads the plays so well and is a finisher finding ways to either take up secondary breaks or be on the final pass… Watch how he never ends up on the floor so he always passes before contact to stay in the play.”
Winners in the 2013-14 season
September – Jacques Burger (Saracens)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November – George Ford (Bath Rugby)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)