Chris Ashton: Worcester Warriors sign England winger from Harlequins

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Chris Ashton could be available to make his debut against champions Exeter on Saturday

Worcester have made arguably the biggest signing in their two decades as a Premiership club by bringing in England winger Chris Ashton.

The 44-times capped international has signed from Harlequins on a deal until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Ashton has been brought in as initial cover for the hamstring injuries suffered by full-back Melani Nanai and wing Noah Heward.

“Chris is the consummate professional,” said director of rugby Alan Solomons.

“He will be a good role model for our younger players. I have no doubt that Chris will make his mark here at Sixways.

“He is a quality, proven international, who is equally at home at wing or full-back.

“He will be a good role model for our younger players. I have no doubt that Chris will make his mark here at Sixways.

“He is a quality, proven international, who is equally at home at wing or full-back.

“With Melani out for the season and Noah’s return being further delayed, the timing could not have been better.”

Ashton’s signing offers him a new chance to become the top try scorer in the 30-year history of the Premiership.

The former Northampton, Saracens and Sale man, who also ran in 24 tries in his one season with French Top 14 side Toulon in 2017-18, is currently on 88, two behind Mark Cueto and just four short of equalling Tom Varndell’s record.

Having began his career in rugby league with hometown club Wigan, he also scored 20 tries in 44 Test appearances for England between 2010 and 2019.

“I would like to thank Harlequins for agreeing to release me early from my contract to be able to join Worcester,” he said.

“To continue my career in the Premiership and play regular rugby means is the right move for me and my family at this time.”

Chris Ashton has scored the majority of his 88 Premiership tries to date with Northampton
Ashton scored the majority of his 88 Premiership tries to date with Northampton

Analysis

BBC Hereford & Worcester’s Dave Bradley

If you’re an optimist, you’d say Warriors have signed a class winger who’s been around for a while, a good try scorer who doesn’t miss many opportunities.

If you’re a pessimist, you might say ‘Worcester Warriors signing another old stager’, which they did a lot in the past and it didn’t really work.

I think it’s an exciting signing. They’re a bit short of fit wingers. Maybe he can convert a few of the chances from all the possession they’ve had in so many recent games.

It’s not a very Alan Solomons signing, looking at all the young talent they’ve brought in of late. But Duncan Weir is going and there are rumours that Francis Hougaard will be too. Maybe he’s thinking I’ve got a lot of good young players. I need a bit more experience around them.

As long as it doesn’t set these young guys back. They are the future of the club and they’ll want to carry on bringing them through. But I can’t see Chris Ashton staying more than two years as, by then, he’ll be 35.



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