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Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Sunday, 13 February 2011

Six Nations teams will target Chris Ashton - Mark Cueto

England v Italy highlights

Extended highlights - England 59-13 Italy

England winger Mark Cueto has warned team-mate Chris Ashton he will become a marked man after his superb try-scoring start to the 2011 Six Nations.

Northampton winger Ashton ran over four tries against Italy at Twickenham as England thrashed Italy 59-13, as well as a brace against Wales last week.

But Cueto said the 23-year-old might not enjoy such freedom against France.

"Teams start to target you and they will maybe throw extra defenders [at Ashton]," Sale back Cueto stated.

"The Italians were already quick to pick up on our support lines.

"There was once or twice when Ashy got pulled back when potentially he was going to score another try.

"Whenever you do your analysis on the teams you come up against, you pick out the threats and without a shadow of a doubt, teams will be looking at Ashy.

"He has scored six tries in two games and is the out-and-out threat with England at the minute so he will be put under a lot of pressure."

We have people like Ben Youngs and Toby Flood at nine and 10 - I could go through the whole team and talk about threats

Mark Cueto

Italy coach Nick Mallett was clearly impressed by Ashton's display at Twickenham and thought he combined well with fly-half Toby Flood.

Mallett said of Ashton: "I don't think he is going to become a good player - he is already an outstanding player. He has the ability to run very good lines, especially on the inside pass. We had worked hard on that, but found it very difficult to defend against.

"In general play England received kicks and counter-attacked and unfortunately for us he would find himself one-on-one against with one of our tight forwards.

"He is just too quick and has a very good nose for a try, but I think you have to give a lot of credit to Toby Flood too for putting him into those positions. But having said that, Ashton is a very good player and I think he is going to trouble a lot of teams."

Ashton made his full international debut in the final match of the 2010 Six Nations against France in Paris and currently boasts a 100% record with nine tries from nine matches.

The former rugby league player was rebuked by England manager Martin Johnson following his "swallow dive" try-scoring celebration in the 26-19 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium - only to do exactly the same for England's opening try against Italy.

Chris Ashton

Four-try Ashton 'honoured' with England record

The Saints star's meteoric rise mirrors that of another former rugby league convert Jason Robinson and Cueto, who scored his first try in 19 matches at Twickenham on Saturday, has said Ashton is blessed with a natural finisher's ability.

"There is an art to what he does and it is unbelievable. He just anticipates everything," Cueto, 31, reflected.

"He will be tracking a play from 10 metres offside just in the hope that they will make a line-break and then he will be in that position.

"A lot of the times, if you are not offside, you are never going to be there.

"In the past, wingers have almost trailed the play from an onside position and if someone did make a line-break, you are 10m behind the play and it is difficult to get there."

However, Cueto thought that England could capitalise on teams focussing their defensive strategies around stopping Ashton and use it to their advantage.

"Shontayne Hape and Mike Tindall in the middle were looking strong and busting through tackles and Ben Foden at the back is unsung at the minute," Cueto added.

"He is doing some great work and unfortunately not getting over the try line - a bit similar to myself [in recent games].

"We have people like Ben Youngs and Toby Flood at nine and 10 - I could go through the whole team and talk about threats."

England play France at Twickenham on 26 February.

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see also
England need to improve - Johnson
13 Feb 11 |  English
Ashton 'swallow dives' to opening try
12 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
England 59-13 Italy
12 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Mallett disappointed with 'poor' Italy
12 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
England v Italy photos
12 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
England v Italy stats
12 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations as it happened
12 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Ashton rebuked after England win
09 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales 19-26 England
04 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations table
10 Aug 06 |  Tables

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