Chris Ashton’s return to the Premiership is official, with confirmation that he has joined Sale Sharks.
Sale announced the news on Tuesday evening, with Ashton returning to his homeland after spending one season in the Top 14 with Toulon.
— Sale Sharks? (@SaleSharksRugby) July 3, 2018
The Times have reported that, as part of the deal, Sale have agreed to pay Toulon €100,000 to release the 31-year-old two years early from the three-year deal last summer, with the player himself also taking a significant pay cut in order to secure his return to England.
Speaking to the Sharks’ website, Ashton expressed his happiness at coming back to the Premiership, having previously played for Northampton Saints and Saracens:
“This really feels like ‘going home’. I’ve always thought, in the back of my mind, that I’d return to the North to play rugby and I’m delighted to be joining Sale Sharks.
“They have developed an increasingly strong squad, including Jono Ross, whom I remember in his younger days at Saracens. He left and has become a considerably more mature player!
“In Toulon, I’ve added to the experience I gained at Saracens. There are many players at Sale Sharks with whom I’m looking forward to playing. I’m not coming to rest on my laurels: I feel I’ve got a lot of rugby left in me and would like to make an impact and help to take the club to their winning ways of 2006.”
The move could also see Ashton rekindle hopes of playing for England at the next World Cup. The back hasn’t played for his national side since 2014, but will now hope to force his way into Eddie Jones’ plans for the tournament in Japan next year.