Worcester boss Jonathan Thomas has revealed that the good impression made by Chris Ashton while they worked together with the Barbarians in 2018 was a factor in Warriors signing the veteran England winger this week on an 18-month deal.
Ashton had struggled to settle at Harlequins since his switch last March but Worcester have now provided him with the platform to go and chase down the five tries he needs to become the Premiership’s all-time record try scorer. He won’t made a debut this weekend, though, as Worcester haven’t selected him for Saturday’s game versus Exeter.
It was only earlier this month that ex-Wales forward Thomas was promoted to head coach at Worcester under Alan Solomons, so the recruitment of players is a responsibility that is new to him.
However, he believes his club have got the signing of Ashton spot on, Thomas explaining how a positive impression left on him in 2018 fed into the decision that the 34-year-old would be a good addition for the Sixways club.
The Barbarians link-up came about when Pat Lam coached the invitational side in their 63-45 win over England at Twickenham, a match in which Ashton scored a hat-trick against his country for a team that Thomas was involved with as an assistant coach as he was at the time working with Lam at Bristol.
“The relationships didn’t connect as much… sometimes personalities don’t match, faces didn’t fit"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 26, 2021
Nearly three years later, the memory of that week hadn’t been forgotten. ‘The big thing we want as a club is to make sure when we do bring people into our environment that they do add value on and off the field,” explained Thomas. “When we saw the ability to bring in Chris, I knew Chris from time in the Barbarians. I worked with him that week and what I saw there was a good person and a good professional.
“Everyone knows his ability as a try-scorer. He is a prolific try-scorer, so we just felt that he could add value to us as a club. It’s always a challenge to bring quality in at this time of the year so it was a really good bit of business for us and for Chris.
“Chris is a very motivated individual. He is a winner and he has got his eye on that try-scoring record as well. It gives him the opportunity to fulfil that ambition. As soon as you spend any time chatting with Chris, he is an infectious person and you just know straight away he wants to play. He’s competitive so here is no doubts about his commitment to the team.”
“You’re thinking, well how much does a Chris Ashton want? Well, he’d want £200K, £250K. He might get offered £150K, a bit less"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 19, 2021
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