Former Sale Sharks winger Chris Ashton has hinted at the reasons as to why he left the club, hints that suggest he didn’t leave because of the ‘style of play’ under Director of Rugby Steve Diamond.
Earlier this week Sale announced the shock departure of the long-serving, who had spent more than ten years building the team up. The official line has been that Diamond is ‘leaving for personal reasons’ but many have been left scratching their heads as to root cause of the upheaval at the club.
Ashton played under Diamond for a season and a half, before he and Sale parted ways earlier this year. The England wing signed for the club in 2018 from Toulon to much fanfare, but dramatically left in March, 2020 by ‘mutual agreement’. Now Ashton, who refused to be drawn on the exact reason he left, has dropped some heavy hints as to why things went south at Sharks, leading him to literally head south to Harlequins.
“Do you think I left for nothing?” Ashton told Jim Hamilton The Offload podcast. “Steve’s words were that I left because of the style of play. I’ll leave it at that.
“It’s not my place to say. I don’t know what’s gone on. I just know why I left and why I decided to move on.”
Some at the time surmised that he had been approached by Harlequins, but the Wigan born try-scorer confirmed that this was not the case and that move only came after he left.
“I actually had no club. I left Sale without a club [to go to], which again, is that not strange?”
“It’s not [a Chris Asthon thing to do}. I went to Toulon from Saracens because it was a life-changing opportunity. That’s why people go.
“I came back because I’m from the north, I wanted to settle there in the north and play for Sale. Is it really a Chris Ashton thing to do? Just to leave a club like that [mid-season]? It’s not.”
“I don’t know what’s gone on. Steve’s left. I don’t know. Personal reasons. Who knows what they might be Big Jim.”
Hilarious full interview with Chris Ashton over on RugbyPass' YT channel ?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 10, 2020
In a previous interview Ashton has suggested that his and Diamond’s relationship was poor. Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast, Ashton explained: “I didn’t feel as though we had the relationship that I’d hoped for.
“We did bang heads on a few things but it’s only because I wanted the club to get better and win. It was never any other way than that.
“It is a shock that Steve said that and it’s a shock he said it to me last Monday night, that he felt that way. I could have gone in and said I want to change this opinion you have of me but I didn’t necessarily believe it was right.
“After I got home from my meeting (with Diamond) my mum and missus said ‘what’s wrong with you’. I must have been as white as some kitchen cupboards. They said ‘what’s up?’ ‘I haven’t got a job, I don’t think I’ve got a job’ – it was that fast.”
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