Apr 06, 2016
Sarries legend Lynagh backs Chris Ashton to shine
Michael Lynagh has backed wing Chris Ashton to press his claims as one England’s finest wide-men this Saturday as Saracens face Northampton Saints in the European Champions Cup quarter-final at Allianz Park.
The legendary ex-Saracens fly-half believes Ashton’s hunger to put a marker down on the big stage after his ten-week suspension will be good news for Saracens who face familiar foes Northampton in the north Londoners first ever European knock-out game at Allianz Park.
Speaking to the SkySports Rugby Podcast, the World Cup winning Wallaby praised Ashton for his try scoring return against Bath last weekend
Lynagh said: “He (Ashton) says he wants to add to his 39 England caps, well here’s his chance on the big stage to press his claims for that.
“He’s a try scorer isn’t he? We saw last week against Bath him scoring two tries, he has that European Cup experience, he has got that nous to bob up at the right time to put the ball over the line. His defence will be tested against Northampton, a wing’s defence always will is tested in games like this, but he just has that nous as a player. I think with Saracens ball carriers just going when they get the ball, Ashton is very good at looking for that inside pass and just getting in support. He was desperately unlucky not to be in the Six Nations, he was really made an example of with that ban, but he looks really fit and strong and that’s good for Saracens.”
On the wider contest Lynagh, who represented Saracens in a successful two year stint between 1996-1998 is hoping his former clubs recent experience of heartache in European competition can spur them on to victory against a Saints team he believes is ‘packed full of big time players’.
“Saracens are certainly experienced at this part of the season and I’m sure they feel that they can go one further and win it,” said Lynagh. “I think their (Saracens’) squad is very, very strong, and although they struggled a bit during the Six Nations when they are back together we’ve seen that they are a formidable outfit. They are a very physical team, with a lot of big ball carriers in their side in tandem with some very skilful backs. They have a squad that is experienced, who have known what it’s like to lose at this stage but I think that this year might be there year.
“Much like Saracens, Northampton have a very good team on paper, packed full of big match players and they know they’ve won there at Saracens in the past. They’ve been a bit hot and cold this year, they haven’t really hit their straps and if I was Jim Mallinder I’d be saying: “it’s about time we did!”
Michael Lynagh was talking to the SkySports Rugby Podcast