Ashton will make NZ tour - McCall

Saracens boss Mark McCall has backed wing Chris Ashton, pictured, for an England recall

Saracens boss Mark McCall has backed wing Chris Ashton, pictured, for an England recall

First published in National Sport News © by

Chris Ashton is "back to his very best" and will force an England recall for the three-Test tour of New Zealand, according to Saracens boss Mark McCall.

Saracens wing Ashton boasts four tries in his last two matches, and now club boss McCall believes Stuart Lancaster will end his England exile this summer.

England face the All Blacks in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton next month, with head coach Lancaster forced to select an extended squad.

England's first Test in New Zealand falls just seven days after the May 31 Aviva Premiership final, leaving Lancaster unable to select stars embroiled in the league showpiece for the All Blacks clash in Auckland.

"I think England are going to take 40 players on that tour, and I've got no doubt that Chris will be one of those players," Saracens rugby director McCall told Press Association Sport.

"I think in the past Chris might have worried about that sort of thing, but I think he's just enjoying his rugby at the moment, enjoying scoring tries and enjoying doing what he does.

"He's enjoying the fact we're going to be involved in some big matches over the coming weeks, and that's something for us all to be excited about."

Saracens will face Toulon in the Heineken Cup final, to add to their impending league play-off battle after topping the Premiership's regular-season standings.

Ashton has not featured for England in 2014, after Lancaster handed Exeter's Jack Nowell and Gloucester's Jonny May the RBS 6 Nations wing berths.

Former Wigan Warriors and Northampton wing Ashton toiled through international duty in 2013, brushing off regular calls for England boss Lancaster to look elsewhere.

When the England omission finally came, McCall admitted Ashton took it to heart - but has fought to rediscover his full attacking verve and flair ever since.

McCall revealed Ashton has undertaken one-on-one work with Saracens skills coach Joe Shaw in a bid to get back into his attacking groove.

Former Ulster boss McCall said ex-Newcastle Falcons and Sale star Shaw has played a vital role in Ashton's return to peak form.

"We're very fortunate to have such good coaches at the club, Joe has developed a very good coaching relationship with Chris.

"And I think that he's brought the best out of Chris.

"It wasn't that difficult a job to be honest!

"And that's because Chris is talented, and he also drives himself so much.

"Sometimes when you get setbacks and knockbacks in life it's not all that easy to bounce back, but to Chris' credit, missing the Six Nations was a huge disappointment for him this year.

"He's been magnificent for us during that time though, and now he's back to his very best.

"The important thing with Chris was for him not to do too much almost in response.

"Once you try to impress people and you make decisions based on what you would like to happen rather than what should happen, rather than what the situation demands, then you trip yourself up.

"And Chris deserves a lot of credit for not doing that, he's been really precise with his decision-making.

"He's making decisions for the team and for the situation, not for himself, and that's to his credit.

"Joe will have been very honest with him, these guys are all very bright and if you try to pull the wool over their eyes they work it out pretty quickly.

"Joe does have an infectious personality and attitude though, and he's been a very good addition to our coaching staff, who all work really hard and have good relationships with our players."

McCall is also backing Ashton to continue his resurgence to even greater heights, confident the 27-year-old is yet to reach the peak of his career.

"Chris has 100 per cent got the best of his career ahead of him still, you grow with experience," said McCall.

"I worked with Tommy Bowe for a number of years at Ulster, and Tommy in his late 20s blossomed and grew, he became a better decision-maker, his feel of what to do and when to do it just got bigger and better.

"And so Chris has definitely got the best ahead of him, because that's going to keep happening with him too."

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