It's on... Ashton has penned deal and will make dramatic Premiership return
The 31-year-old has been heavily linked with Sale Sharks in recent weeks and RugbyPass now understands that a deal has been struck and his signing will be announced next week.
With Ashton keen to push his case for inclusion in the England team at the Rugby World Cup next year and Mourad Boudjellal’s recent comments that Ashton’s future was in the player’s own hands, the writing was on the wall regarding a return to the Premiership.
The former Saracens and Northampton Saints man played in the unaccustomed position of full-back for Toulon last season and still managed to break the Top 14 try scoring record, crossing the whitewash 24 times, five times more than closest rival Nemani Nadolo and three more than the previous record, which was held by Napolioni Nalaga.
It is those performances which have prompted Sale to move, with RugbyPass understanding that they see Ashton as an option at 15, especially with both Denny Solomona and Marland Yarde already in the mix on the wing. Ashton will help fill the void created by Mike Haley’s and Will Addison’s departures to Ireland.
The move will once again make him eligible to play for England, although he will have a fair amount of competition to win a spot in the wider squad, let alone the matchday 23.
Jonny May and Mike Brown both did their stock no harm in South Africa this summer, whilst Elliot Daly had the free pass of adapting to a new position at international level. Both Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell will be available again next season, too, whilst he will also need to beat out soon-to-be club teammates Solomona and Yarde.
He will, however, add to the options in Eddie Jones’ arsenal and if he can replicate his Toulon form from last season, there’s no reason why he can’t push himself into contention.