Chris Ashton: Toulon switch could be 'cathartic' for Saracens wing - Paul Grayson

Chris Ashton
Saracens winger Chris Ashton has not featured for England since Eddie Jones became head coach of the national side in November 2015

Chris Ashton's proposed move to French side Toulon could be "cathartic" for the player, according to the man who first brought him to rugby union.

The winger is understood to have signed a deal in principle to join the three-time European champions.

Current club Saracens are prepared to release Ashton, 29, from his contract.

"It could be one of those moves that reinvigorates him," said Paul Grayson, who as Northampton coach recruited Ashton from Wigan Warriors in 2007.

Ashton has been banned twice in 2016; first for 10 weeks for making contact with the eye area of an opponent in January and he is currently serving a 13-week ban for biting.

The first suspension resulted in him missing England's Six Nations campaign and, after not being selected for the summer tour of Australia, Ashton chose not to tour with the England Saxons in South Africa.

Ashton is unlikely to be picked again by England head coach Eddie Jones in the near future, which has hastened his decision to seek a fresh start.

"As a player you just think 'I am up against it here, I am not going to be playing for England, where is the new adventure?'," former England fly-half Grayson told BBC Radio 5 live.

Paul Grayson
Paul Grayson won 32 caps for England between 1995 and 2004

"Maybe it is just the end of the road. Saracens have a very good habit of people leaving on good terms from their club."

Moving to France would end any hopes of an international recall, with the Rugby Football Union not picking players based outside the Premiership.

But Grayson feels Ashton, who has scored 19 tries in 39 Tests, could benefit from playing alongside the likes of Australia's Matt Giteau and New Zealand's Ma'a Nonu at Toulon.

"You are going to see plenty of ball on the wing at Toulon," he said. "As a natural born try-scorer that is what he lives for."

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