Chris Ashton might be becoming a distant memory at Northampton – but the former Saints winger is still happy to stoke the fires of his acrimonious departure.
Ashton was with his new club Saracens in North London on Monday to help launch their 2012-13 kit but he was still minded to launch a defence of his summer transit.
To many the 25-year-old is nothing more than a modern-day mercenary, chasing the big buck at Sarries – a fact illuminated most pointedly by his new club’s passion not for the running rugby which would showcase Ashton at his best but a stolid, kick and chase mindset.
Ashton however moved to refute those suggestions on Monday, insisting Sarries are all geared up for an all-new expansive game plan next term.
“From what we have talked about with Sarries we might not be seeing as much of what we’ve seen last season with kicking and stuff like that and have a bit more confidence with it,” he said. “I would not be here if they didn’t want to have a bit more free play and get their hands on the ball.
“One of the reasons I came here was to help my rugby, to freshen up and to push myself again.
“Coming here means I have got to start again with it all, I have got to impress and get myself in the team.
“It’s exactly why I came - to challenge myself with it. They have got good wingers who can play instead of me anytime so I’ve always got to challenge myself.
“I think Saracens’ negativity has been a little bit exaggerated but I think they will be a bit, not disappointed but will have wanted to score more tries and play a bit more last season, but I think it was working for them at the time so that’s the way they played.
“But I think there’s been a few people brought in and a few changes might be made this season.”
However while Ashton was moved to further defend himself the former Saints winger was also adamant his relationship with Northampton remained fully intact.
“The way things were left was all good,” he added. “It was unfortunate that we had to go through the patch where I didn’t play. “By the end, it was unfortunate that I injured my back and wasn’t able to play in the semi-final which did my head in a little bit but sometimes that’s how life goes.
“But thankfully I got to play against Worcester there. It’s five years of my life there, it’s a big part of my life so I’ll thank them for that but I’d like to think we left on good terms.”
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