Ashton picks brains of Rooney’s doctor

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Chris Ashton has sought inspiration from Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney in a bid to rediscover his try-scoring touch and fire England to grand slam glory.

The Saracens wing started his England career with a bang, scoring 15 tries in his first 17 Tests and he was credited with redefining the role of a modern-day wing.

But the tries have dried up. Ashton has touched down just twice in 16 Tests since Stuart Lancaster took charge after the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Ashton, so used to judging his form and contribution by the number of tries he scored, turned to England’s sports psychologist Bill Beswick for help.

“Bill’s got a lot of experience with football and refers to a lot of footballers: Wayne Rooney and Alan Smith, Alan Shearer and others,” said Ashton.

“I’ve had a good few conversations with him. He uses his experience of what he’s seen before.

“He used one with me of Shearer who went loads of games without scoring, then scored 10 in a row or something.

“Another one is Rooney. He didn’t know how to play in a team, he just used to get on the ball all the time and shoot from wherever he was.

“It didn’t really matter until he went to (Manchester) United and understood how to play in a team – and understood his role in a team.”

There are times Ashton has been guilty of trying too hard to make an impact – “like a dog chasing a ball” – rather than reading the opportunities more astutely.

But he was unfortunate not to score against Italy, denied once by a last-gasp tackle and a second time when Mike Brown failed to put him away.

“If you think about (the number of tries) too much it goes the opposite way. I’ve definitely thought about it too much because it’s something that’s quite important to me,” said Ashton.

“I’ve chased it and ended up chasing it too much and not understood why it’s not happening.

“After reviewing it with the coaches I just took a step back and realised I could be more effective.

“This week is just another step to get myself in those positions again.”

Ashton’s defence has also been under the spotlight this season. He was banned from England’s win against Fiji after receiving three yellow cards for dangerous tackles.

Questions are now being asked of his defensive fortitude with England, criticism Ashton is aware of but tries to avoid so it does not ravage his confidence.

England’s defence coach Andy Farrell has backed Ashton’s contribution and the player himself insisted recently: “I am not afraid to tackle”.

Ashton has fond memories of the Millennium Stadium. Two years ago, he scored twice in England’s 26-19 victory.