As England prepares to kick off their Six Nations campaign against Italy, former wing Chris Ashton has voiced his expectations for a more dynamic and entertaining style of play under head coach Steve Borthwick.
Reflecting on England’s performance in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and Rugby World Cup, which saw a pragmatic approach yielding mixed results, Ashton believes that fans can anticipate a shift towards more attack-minded rugby.
In an interview with Gambling Zone, Ashton remarked, “England playing more attack-minded rugby at the Six Nations. Steve had a game plan to get to the semi-finals at the World Cup and then see what happens. Technically, that game plan worked.”
Acknowledging England’s near miss in the World Cup semi-final against South Africa, Ashton commended the effectiveness of Borthwick’s strategy while emphasizing the desire to blend attractive rugby with positive results.
The match against Italy presents an opportune moment for experimentation, with Borthwick introducing five uncapped players to the matchday squad. Among them, Fraser Dingwall’s inclusion at inside center particularly caught Ashton’s attention, highlighting Dingwall’s consistency and versatility.
“Sometimes lads just need the backing for people to realize they can play at this level. Ollie Lawrence’s absence has opened the door,” Ashton remarked, emphasizing the importance of seizing opportunities in international rugby.
Looking ahead to the clash in Rome, Ashton expressed confidence in England’s ability to secure a convincing victory despite the challenges posed by Italy’s home advantage. Reflecting on his own experience playing in Rome, Ashton recalled adverse weather conditions but remained optimistic about England’s prospects.
With England perceived as underdogs in the tournament, Ashton sees the Six Nations opener as an opportunity for the team to assert themselves and set the tone for the competition.
“It is a good opportunity to lay down an early marker,” Ashton concluded, echoing the sentiment of many England supporters eager to witness a new era of exciting and successful rugby under Borthwick’s leadership.
As the anticipation builds for the Six Nations showdown, rugby enthusiasts await eagerly to see how England’s revamped approach will unfold on the field against Italy.