SWALLOW YOUR PRIDE; England stars told: Respect our opponents.. but GOL carry on diving!
CHRIS ASHTON has been told he can carry on swallow-diving - as long as it does not wind up England's opponents.
In a one-to-one meeting with new Red Rose boss Stuart Lancaster, Ashton was told his try-scoring celebration would not be banned.
But Lancaster gave the livewire wing a "pretty frank assessment" of how he expects him and his teammates to behave in this post-World Cup era.
"It's not about the swallowdive, it's about everyone's collective behaviour," said Lancaster (right with Tom Wood). "If anyone is taking energy out of the team through selfishness or ego, it's the coach's prerogative who he picks."
He delivered the warning at a team meeting on Tuesday night - and made it public yesterday after accusations of English "arrogance" were levelled by Scotland boss Andy Robinson.
The countries meet at Murrayfield on Saturday week where new-look England open their Six Nations title defence.
It promised to be an explosive encounter even before Robinson, who played and coached England, tossed his verbal grenade.
He accused two or three players of "disrespecting" not only Scotland, but other teams, in the way they conducted themselves at the World Cup.
"For me, it undermined what England have achieved over the last year," he said. "And in the end it undermined Martin Johnson as manager.
"We have a responsibility, as players and coaches, to have respect for the people we play against and the people we play with."
If Robinson's outburst was an attempt to wind up England, it failed. "I've no interest in mind games or tit-for-tat wars of words," said Lancaster. Why? Because he broadly agrees with the senitments of Robinson.
"We want a team that's confident, but respectful of the opposition and responsible for the shirt it's wearing," he added.
"Hopefully, these values will shine through because if any player takes to the field disrespecting the opposition, we're probably not going to win."
The caretaker coach - who confirmed he will apply for the fulltime post - is set to promote Mouritz Botha into his line-up after injury KO'd Courtney Lawes. He is also considering calling up David Strettle.
Above all, Lancaster wants a side that annoys Robbo in nine days' time - by beating Scotland, not disrespecting them.
FLY GUY But Ashton can carry on his trademark try celebration. Below, yesterday's Mirror Sport story