Ashton scoops player award
Northampton winger rewarded for breakthrough campaign
Last Updated: 19/05/10 9:10am
Ashton: memorable season
Northampton and England winger Chris Ashton has won the Guinness Premiership Player of the Season award.
It caps a meteoric rise for the 23-year-old who switched codes from rugby league and Wigan in 2007.
This term Ashton finished with 16 tries in 20 matches for Saints - the highest total in a single season for over a decade and second only to Dominic Chapman, who scored 17 for Richmond in the 1997/98 season.
His outstanding form also saw him break into the England set-up, securing his first cap in the Six Nations clash against France in March.
He has subsequently also been included in England's squad for the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand.
On collecting his award, Ashton paid tribute to his father, Kevin, who passed away a couple of weeks ago after losing his battle with cancer.
Tribute to father
"My Dad passed away about two weeks ago," he explained. "It was his funeral yesterday and he helped me get to where I am in rugby and I would just like to say thank you.
"It has been a big year for me. It took me a while to get the hang of this game, coming over from rugby league, and I think I am finally getting the hang of it."
Ashton's Northampton team-mate Soane Tonga'uiha finished in second place, the powerful Tongan prop recognised for a highly-consistent season which included a try in Northampton's LV= Cup final victory over Gloucester at Sixways.
Saracens captain Ernst Joubert finished in third place, while Saracens hooker Schalk Brits and Northampton back row Phil Dowson were also nominated.
Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs was named as the Discovery of the Season, beating Saracens' Andy Saull into second.
Andy Key of Leeds pipped Northampton's Jim Mallinder to the Director of Rugby of the Season award.
Guinness Premiership Player of the Season - Winner: Chris Ashton, Northampton. Second: Soane Tonga'uiha, Northampton. Third: Ernst Joubert, Saracens.
Land Rover Discovery of the Season - Ben Youngs, Leicester.
QBE Director of Rugby of the Season - Leeds Carnegie, Andy Key
Try of the Season - Nick Abendanon, Bath v Leeds, 8th May 2010.
MBNA Community Player of the Season - Olly Barkley.
Gatorade Performance of the Season - Jordan Crane, Leicester.
Top Try Scorer - Chris Ashton, Northampton Saints, 16 tries.
Gilbert Golden Boot - Jimmy Gopperth, Newcastle Falcons, 219 points.
Sky Sports Dream Team: A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Northampton) S Rabeni (Leeds), B Barritt (Saracens), S Hamilton (Leicester); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); S Tonga'uiha (Northampton), S Brits (Saracens), C Hayman (Newcastle), M Wentzel, (Leeds), J Kruger (Northampton), P Dowson (Northampton, captain), H Fourie (Leeds), E Joubert (Saracens).