Instead the former Bath boss, who coached England to the 2007 World Cup Final, has talked up Catt's chances of creating some extra spark in an England back division that proved solid rather than spectacular in the recent 6 Nations.
"I always felt that Mike Catt was innovative as a player and if he takes that perspective and mentality into his coaching, he would be a real bonus to anyone," Ashton told the Guardian after Catt was initially appointed on a short-term basis.
"I think England have been looking for a coach who can help them find an extra gear in attack and I am sure that is what Stuart Lancaster will want Mike to do in South Africa.
"I hope that England will look towards the style of rugby that London Irish have played going forward under Catt as it's a very challenging game to defend against.
"He has to make sure though that all the basics are in place first, so that'll be the initial job. Once that's there then they can start to look to play in a slightly different way."