Ewan Ashman’s spectacular debut try for Scotland against Australia was no big deal – for the self-proclaimed “winger in a fat person’s body”.
The 21-year-old Sale Sharks hooker was called on after just 11 minutes of the test at Murrayfield to play a crucial role in the 15-13 victory that sets up Scotland for shot at the world champion Springboks next week.
And he revealed English coaches were wasting their time when they approached him last year to join up with Eddie Jones’ squad.
‘I was thinking about a one-hander’
— Ewan Ashman (@EwanAshman2) November 7, 2021
The big thing was the try, which gave Scotland the lead midway through the second half. Ashman, wide on the left, took a pass from Pierre Schoeman and got airborne to avoid going in touch as he planted the ball in the corner.
“I didn’t think Schoey was going to give me the ball there,” he admitted. “He’s good from that range so I thought he would be head down.
“Fortunately he gave me the ball and I snuck in. I think I’m just a winger in a fat person’s body.
“I was thinking of doing a rugby league one-hander but I thought I could sneak in with two hands so better safe than sorry. It was good work from the boys to get there.”
No time to be nervous
Ashman didn’t have time to get nervous, he said, as he replaced George Turner.
“I just stripped off and got on there,” he said. “It was actually really good for me as those nerves were kind of building and it just let me relax into it – straight on and straight into the job.”
Canadian-born, with Scottish parents, the Ashmans settled in Manchester so Ewan had three-way eligibility. But there was only ever one choice, he said, and head coach Gregor Townsend was made abundantly clear of that.
“He phoned me to say that an England coach had spoken to him at training,” recalled the coach. “I wasn’t expecting it. He said ‘just to let you know I’m 100 per cent committed to Scotland. So if you hear anything about me being asked to play for England there are no worries on that side’.
“He didn’t need to do that but it was nice to hear from him. And what a start to his Test career. To go on as early against one of the top teams in the world and come out with a try and come out with a win.”
‘It was never even a decision for me’
Dad Jonathan made sure Ewan was always only headed one way.
“It was never even a decision for me,” he said. “I think if the England guys had approached my dad or uncle (when he was a junior) there wouldn’t even have been a conversation.
“They’re as Scottish as they come. It was a real proud day for me today and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“I was buzzing coming to Murrayfield and the adrenaline was through the roof. Singing the anthem I was just trying to hold it together. I was just buzzing to be there and that carried me through.”
As for the England approach, Ewan was just being polite.
“Some guys came to Sale and spoke to me. I listened to what they had to say but it was never a decision for me: I’m Scottish.
“I called and told Gregor he had nothing to worry about, and I’d be at the next camp.”