Rugby Union: Chris Ashton believes England are not far off New Zealand
Last Updated: 27/11/13 3:23pm
Chris Ashton: Believes England need a clinical edge
Chris Ashton believes England are not far off the All Blacks' level but need to develop a clinical edge to take them to the very top.
The Saracens wing featured for Stuart Lancaster's side in the three Autumn internationals, where England beat Australia and Argentina before narrowly losing 30-22 to world champions New Zealand.
England came back from 17-3 down to take a 22-20 lead before succumbing to a ferocious finish from the All Blacks, which saw a brilliant offload from Ma'a Nonu earn Julian Savea a match-winning try.
New Zealand then went on to create history by beating Ireland 24-22 with the last play of the game to become the first side in the professional era to win all their matches in a calendar year.
"I don't think we are too far away from them. Of course we'll be disappointed with the loss - but overall I think we'll be very happy with how the three games went."
Ashton told Sky Sports News Radio: "We knew going into the New Zealand game we would have to be better (than the second half performance against Argentina).
"Letting them go 17-3 up wasn't ideal, it's never ideal letting the All Blacks go that far ahead, but we managed to pull it back and get ahead in the game, which is pretty unusual against New Zealand, I don't think too many teams have been able to do that.
"But I think we'll take a lot from it, I think they've just got that little bit of class ahead - Nonu's offload for the Savea try was unbelievable for them to win the game - and I think they showed again on the weekend (against Ireland) why they are the best team.
"But I don't think we are too far away from them. Of course we'll be disappointed with the loss - but overall I think we'll be very happy with how the three games went."
As regards what England need to do to get to the level where they can beat the All Blacks, he replied: "I think it's just that clinical edge, creating tries out of nothing.
"Everybody thought the game was over on the weekend against Ireland and they managed to keep hold of the ball and create a try out of nothing in extra time and win the game.
"I think that is a quality in itself that you have to get by being ruthless and winning every game and there is something that comes with that.
"I think it's a mindset sometimes in having the confidence that you can go on and win the game from any point.
"Something I think that a young team like ourselves have to develop and learn a little bit more, that the game's never over.
"I think if we'd had done that and just shut them out when we were up, and knowing when to shut the game out and to slow it down to our pace will be a big turning point for us."
Chris Ashton was speaking to Sky Sports News Radio about the full-time Rugby Union and Education Scholarship for 16-18 year old learners, provided by Virtual Learning UK in association with The Chris Ashton Rugby Academy