Chris Ashton has arrived at Worcester with every ambition of surpassing Tom Varndell in the record books as the all-time highest Premiership try-scorer, but he quipped at his first Warriors media conference that he would happily settle for just the three tries needed to move ahead of former Sale talisman Mark Cueto.
The retired Varndell leads the way at the top of the all-time chart in England with 92 tries, two more than the similarly retired Cueto and four clear of Ashton who is sitting in third place on the list.
Ashton scored twice during his six Premiership appearances for Harlequins over the past ten months and rather than potentially having limited exposure between now and the end of this season, he has signed an 18-month deal at Worcester and hopes to get cracking as soon as this Saturday’s visit by champions Exeter to Sixways.
Asked about being so close to making history and becoming the Premiership’s most potent finisher ever, Ashton said: “It’s never something you ever really aim for. If you play the game long enough you will eventually get there at some point being in my position.
“I’m just getting to that stage. I have been very fortunate to play in some great teams over the years which always helped. So now I’m close to it, the actual main goal is to beat Mark Cueto.
“The relationships didn’t connect as much… sometimes personalities don’t match, faces didn’t fit"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 26, 2021
“That is still the focus of it really. I’m not too bothered by it. It’s there and when you are that close it would be nice to get past Cueto, but I would take winning any day over getting that kind of record. Generally when you win I manage to get a try, so hopefully they both can go hand in hand.”
So many of Ashton’s tries over the years were accompanied by his Ash-splash dive, showmanship that spectators of the clubs he played with enjoyed immensely. However, matches are now currently being played behind closed doors and the lack of atmosphere is something Ashton still finds strange.
“I have really struggled with that,” he admitted. “I’m not shying away from that at all… I have definitely struggled with not having that interaction. It’s definitely part of a big reason why I play the game and want to be out on the weekend playing in front of fans. I’m slowly getting used to it, but I’m hoping I don’t have to get used to it for too much longer.
“I would love to break the record,” he later added. “I feel like I’m 40 tries away at the minute, not four. I’m really just a bit conscious that it has been said quite a lot to me. I don’t really want it to. I just want to be there when I’m past it and I can crack on.”
“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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