O’Driscoll delight at Wilkinson ‘boost’

British & Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll has hailed the addition of Jonny Wilkinson to the touring party as a 'big boost' to his side's chances of glory in New Zealand. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

British & Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll has hailed the addition of Jonny Wilkinson to the touring party as a ‘big boost’ to his side’s chances of glory in New Zealand.

Wilkinson was included as the 45th member of the Lions squad on Sunday night after proving he had fully recovered from the knee ligament damage which threatened to wreck his dreams of a second Lions tour.

Head coach Sir Clive Woodward had omitted Wilkinson from the original squad but left the door open subject to the England fly-half proving his fitness.

Woodward wasted no time in adding Wilkinson to the touring party on Sunday night after he emerged unscathed from his third game back, Newcastle’s wildcard play-off defeat to Gloucester.

And O’Driscoll, who played alongside Wilkinson in all three Tests of the 2001 Lions tour in Australia, was thrilled with the news.

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"It is fantastic, it’s great to have him there. Everyone knows about Jonny’s capabilities, what he brings to a side and it is great to have him back in form and playing well," he said.

"Touch wood he is over all his injuries and it is a big boost to the side. Mentally he is a tough player, his skill level is as high as you can get and he is the complete number 10. He controls things well, he is full of confidence and that is what you need.

"It’s very exciting. He’s an incredibly organised individual. He’s got a clear idea of what he wants, he’s very structured, he’s a very confident guy.

"He is so good at what he does and he will strengthen the squad now we have four fantastic stand-offs."

Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones will head out to New Zealand in pole position, but a fully-fit Wilkinson is certain to be in the running for Test selection and Woodward’s stand-off stocks are healthy with Ronan O’Gara and Charlie Hodgson also on board.

"It’s going to bring the competition levels up greatly. They are all going to be playing for a Test spot," said O’Driscoll.

"It is great for us. Jonny is a world class player and has been for a number of years."

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