sport

Ashton wants to top scoring list

Chris Ashton wants to be remembered as England's greatest-ever try-scorer after breaking into the top 10 with his effort against Scotland.

Ashton has already chalked up 17 tries in 30 England Tests since his debut just three years ago and he is honoured to have joined a list that includes the likes of Will Greenwood, Ben Cohen and Jason Robinson.

The Saracens wing has some way to go before he overtakes Rory Underwood, who tops the England chart with 49 tries from 85 Tests.

But Ashton is back in the groove after ending an 11-Test drought with tries against New Zealand and Scotland and in confident mood heading into Sunday's RBS 6 Nations showdown with Ireland.

"It is an honour to be on that list with them all. I hope to be on top of it one day and then sit back and reflect on it - but not now," Ashton said.

"I am only 25. I have been here for three years and hopefully I will be here for a lot longer.

"I am happy to score. It is part of my job title. It was difficult to go so many games without scoring and hopefully that won't happen again.

"There is a bit of a mindset change. I feel more confident in it and just being in a team with people who put you in the right places and give you the opportunities gives you confidence."

Ashton is one of five England players returning to Dublin this weekend with painful memories of the trip in 2009 and the broken Grand Slam dreams.

Ireland caught England cold that day, smashing them with an intensity and a physicality that Martin Johnson's side could not live with.

England won the title but it was a hollow triumph. Their victory at the Aviva Stadium three months later in a World Cup warm-up was of scant consolation.

Ashton is sick of talking about that Dublin defeat. The fact Stuart Lancaster's England set-up is so different from Johnson's regime renders it irrelevant in his mind.

"The celebrations (of winning the Six Nations) were a bit flat. It was not the way you want to win it," Ashton said.

"There was a lot of pressure on us going into it - we had never been there before so we didn't really know what to expect and then it just went wrong from the start.

"We have not used that game at all (in our preparations). It was a pretty bad day for us and it is completely different here now to what it was then.

"We are a lot different to the way we were then. We had a good tournament that time but now it just feels different.

"The team feels a lot closer together and everyone knows what we are aiming for and the direction we are going. The culture and the attitude is completely different.

"We have never been beaten like that since these coaches have been together. We have taken a step forward.

"If we win this weekend, can we never talk about that game again?"

Ashton prefers to use last season's thumping 30-9 victory over Ireland at Twickenham as inspiration, although England are not foolish enough to assume it will be as easy again.

Only last weekend, Wales were blown away in the first half at the Millennium Stadium as Ireland opened their campaign with a 30-22 victory.

"We got hammered in the first half in 2009 - it was exactly what they did to Wales last week," Ashton said.

"As soon as you get on a roll like that at home, it is pretty difficult to stop it. It is pretty hard to stop the snowball coming at you."

But Ashton is convinced this new England side will never suffer a repeat of that 2009 Dublin demolition, a confidence that was forged under the posts at Ellis Park, Johannesburg last summer.

South Africa stormed into a 22-3 lead after just 20 minutes but the way England responded is seen as one of the key foundation stones of this team.

England refused to crumble and eventually went down 36-27 before drawing the third Test in Port Elizabeth, a match they could have won.

"That was this team's first experience of that kind of atmosphere and how it feels for a team like that to come at you," Ashton said.

"We were never quite in same situation (as Dublin 2009), we never got beat as bad as we did that day.

"We never let them get away from us and that is why I don't think that day will ever come round again."