Chris Ashton admits that while Jack Nowell still has plenty to learn if he is to star at the 2015 World Cup, the Exeter Chiefs youngster has the fearless attitude to get him there.
Chiefs starlet Nowell is very much the flavour of the month when it comes to England wings right now, having started all four of England’s 2014 Six Nations games so far, with Ashton not even named among the replacements.
And while Nowell has so far failed to bag a maiden Test try, he has grabbed attentions for his performances so far.
Recovering from a knock on with his very first touch in international rugby against France; Nowell’s clever footwork and well-timed pass created a crucial try for Mike Brown in England’s 20-0 win over Scotland at Murrayfield a week later.
Nowell went on to put in a solid performance as England denied Ireland the Triple Crown and then beat Wales at Twickenham on Sunday.
“Jack has had plenty of involvements in the games, he is keen to get involved and touch the ball which is a good sign,” Ashton said.
“You don’t want someone who is going to hide away but he is keen and that is only going to help him grow in confidence.
“In his first few caps, I have been impressed with how he has fared, it was tough in France and to lose like that in your first cap is always hard but he has come through that test.
“When you get to the situation of a World Cup, if these lads have not got experience they are not useless, but it takes time to get up to speed and you cannot afford to take that risk sometimes.
“Stuart [Lancaster] wanted to give them that experience, to give them a taste for it and the likes of Jack are repaying him.”
While Nowell is in possession of an England starting spot right now he knows that any slip ups will be pounced upon by those waiting in the wings – the likes of Ashton, Christian Wade and Marland Yarde all looking to get back in on the action.
And Ashton believes that the current crop of wingers – which also includes Jonny May with the Gloucester man having also started the last three England games – are in for a dogfight right up until the 2015 World Cup.
“Jack and Jonny have been going well for their clubs and with Christian and Marland injured or just coming back there just isn’t that much cover on the wings,” Ashton added.
“I don’t think there is any winger in England that is head and shoulders above the rest.
“A lot of the lads in the team will be the first pick at the moment but wing at the minute I don’t think there is anyone clear at the top.”
Matt Mullan, Chris Ashton and Henry Thomas are representing the England team on behalf of Marriott Hotels, official partner of England Rugby, see how Marriott is reinventing travel at TravelBrilliantly.co.uk