Ashton relishes fly-half options

England coach Brian Ashton admits that competition for Jonny Wilkinson's number 10 shirt has never been greater as he prepares for the RBS 6 Nations Championship. [more]

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England coach Brian Ashton admits that competition for Jonny Wilkinson’s number 10 shirt has never been greater as he prepares for the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Wilkinson, who starred in England’s run to the World Cup final, is the man is possession as England prepare to launch their RBS 6 Nations campaign against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

But Ashton concedes that there are half a dozen players at his disposal who could take on the crucial fly-half role. Danny Cipriani, Charlie Hodgson and Toby Flood are in England’s RBS 6 Nations squad, while Ryan Lamb and Shane Geraghty are in the England Saxons squad.

"A few years ago there was Wilkinson, Hodgson and no-one else for fly-half, and now there are another four players who could step in and do a good job," Ashton told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme.

Ashton denied that Wilkinson is the first player he puts down on the teamsheet when deciding on his XV.

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"We talk about every position every time before a game and, from that point of view, he is no different to anyone else," he added.

"I’m quite excited by the squad of players we’ve got and, if I compare now to where I was ahead of my first game, my thoughts on who is going to play now are a lot clearer."

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