Chris Ashton says he is delighted to have quit the English Premiership for French Top 14 giants Toulon, escaping the negative remarks that plagued him at home.
He revealed to The Times that Jones telling him, despite good try-scoring form, that he’d not be going to Australia in 2016 was a major knockback.
“He said to me my tackle completion wasn’t right — but at Saracens you make a tackle and get out as quickly as you can so you can get set again.
“Everyone I spoke to said, ‘Go [on the Saxons tour]’ and that it was a test. Everyone. Maybe it was a test and I failed dramatically.
“Melissa (Ashton’s wife) was pregnant. She had been pregnant before and lost it. It was getting close to the birth and I didn’t really want to go on tour to try to prove myself. I didn’t really feel I needed to.
“I’d done the Saxons thing for Stuart, going to Ireland and playing. It didn’t get me any farther along with him. When I rang him [Jones] he said, ‘Yeah no worries.’ That was it.”
He went onto say he was happy In France not to have to contend with the debate over whether he should be playing for England.
“Maybe I would have played for England again, maybe I wouldn’t,” he said.
(& before you ask, yes, some1 put an Angolan flag for Ashy 🙈) pic.twitter.com/FROaZY24DY
— #RugbyToulon (@rugbytoulon_) December 4, 2017
“It doesn’t matter. I’m glad I can forget about it.
“You play in England and there is always a group of people who think, ‘He’s not good enough to play for England.’ Here you don’t have that.
“Why be in England and be surrounded by it all the time, when I can be here and away from it all? It’s what I wanted. If I do well here at Toulon, the team and the fans are more than happy.”
Ashton, Saracens’ record try-scorer with 76, says playing for Toulon is more to his liking as they play in a more free-flowing style than the rigidity he experienced at Saracens.
“In French rugby they want to play,” he said.
“From fullback I can go every time, everywhere, which is what I did when I first came over from league to union.
“At Saracens I had to pick when and where, but here I can get on the end of everything. This is better for me. I am happy with it.”