Chris Ashton: Saracens and England winger says ban played part in Toulon move

Chris Ashton
Ashton will join French Top 14 side Toulon at the end of the 2016-17 Premiership season.

Chris Ashton says he still has a "burning desire" to play for England but decided after his ban for biting that it was time to move to France.

"That was when I felt I needed to get out of England," Ashton told BBC Sport.

The Toulon-bound Saracens wing said "obstacles on both sides" meant he accepted his Test career is over.

"I enjoy it here [Saracens] but I always want to play for England and by going to France it took that out of the picture," he told 5 live's Rugby Show.

His move to Toulon puts the former Northampton and Wigan rugby league winger out of the running for an England recall, with the Rugby Football Union not allowing players based outside the Premiership to be picked.

"It is hard to watch England, although now I have made my decision it is a lot easier," he added.

"The burning desire is always there and always will be, it just changes its path slightly and going to France takes that away."

Ashton has scored 19 tries for England in his 39 caps, the last of which came in the summer of 2014.

'I have put myself in those situations'

He was given a 13-week ban after being found guilty last year of biting Northampton prop Alex Waller, returning to action in December 2016.

It was Ashton's second lengthy suspension after he was banned for 10 weeks in 2015 for eye-gouging, which cost him his place in England head coach Eddie Jones' first Six Nations squad.

"I can't feel hard done by, well obviously I can, but I think that was the easy option," said the prolific try scorer.

"I have put myself in those situations. It can look the way it looks because I have put myself in that place so there is definitely a responsibility on my side.

"Whether I agree with someone telling me I have done something or not is completely different."

British and Irish Lions call up on the cards?

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall believes Ashton should be considered for this summer's British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

Ashton said: "I think that is just Mark being very nice to me.

"He is always a good guy and always been very supportive of me but I think he was just being very nice."

Defending champions Saracens host Glasgow in the last eight of the European Champions Cup at 13:00 BST on Sunday.

Listen to the full interview on BBC Radio 5 live's European Champions Cup preview show on Thursday, 30 March at 21:00 BST

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