Lancaster: Ashton can keep England try celebration
Updated: January 25, 2012, 09:56
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LONDON(AP) There is still a place in the England side for Chris Ashton's flamboyant "swan dive'' try celebration despite coach Stuart Lancaster's call for his players refocus on teamwork rather than individual achievement.
England's dismal Rugby World Cup campaign last year was followed by recriminations and allegations that some players were more interested in personal glory - or even money - than driving the team to success.
Since being appointed interim coach for the Six Nations, Lancaster has set about creating a renewed team ethic among a rejuvenated squad. But that doesn't mean he is determined to clamp down on what has been the most visible expression of joy from any England players over the past few seasons.
"Sometimes in the moment it's the right thing to do,'' Lancaster said Wednesday. "But if I find things that are individual driven and ego driven, I'll be disappointed and that will be reflected in the team selection.''
Ashton's trademark dive across the line was criticized under England's previous coaching regime because of the possibility that the former league player could drop the ball from his one-handed grip before grounding it.
But Lancaster said the 24-year-old Ashton has so far given him no cause for concern.
Ashton has 15 tries from his first 18 tests, most famously a length-of-the-field effort in the 35-18 win over Australia at Twickenham in November 2010.
"I think he's a great player, a fantastic player,'' Lancaster said. "We had a video done of the players in the squad and every time you see Chris score that try against Australia, the hairs on my neck stand up.
"Chris in camp has been fantastic: enthusiastic, positive, desperate to get in the team. And that's all I can judge him on.''
With the Rugby Football Union still searching for a permanent successor to Martin Johnson as coach, Lancaster said he has yet to formally apply for the job.
The RFU has set a deadline of Feb. 15 - after the first two of England's five Six Nations matches - for applications.
Lancaster, who said that he will submit his application, said one of his biggest hopes is to dispel the widespread view of England as an arrogant team.
"I'd be disappointed if in six to 12 months' time people are still saying that about us,'' Lancaster said. "Any team I've coached, I'd be disappointed to be described as arrogant.''