Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Andrew: Jonny Won't Hold Back

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Andrew: Jonny Won't Hold Back

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

ROB ANDREW today brought some muchneeded perspective to the concern over Jonny Wilkinson's neck injury by insisting "it's like having a cracked bone in a your little finger and we have all played with those".

Andrew, the Newcastle director of rugby, has a vested interest in getting Wilkinson back on the field as quickly as possible as the England hero is the club's biggest asset, and his verdict on the injury is based on medical facts not mere speculation.

As Wilkinson's mentor, Andrew, the former England fly-half, has tried to help the new BBC Sports Personality of the Year handle the fallout from the X-ray on Saturday which revealed a stress fracture of a facet joint in his neck/shoulder area.

Initial fears had Wilkinson out for three months but Newcastle hope to see him back on the pitch against Northampton in the Zurich Premiership in just two weeks' time.

That hope revolves around the extensive medical tests carried out on Wilkinson. Andrew has been briefed on the results and that is why he was able to give Standard Sport an exclusive verdict on a sporting injury that is threatening to repeat the hysteria that greeted David Beckham's foot problem before the last football World Cup.

"The medical people have told me that it's as if Jonny has cracked a bone in his little finger and we have all played with those in our careers," said Andrew. "This has been blown out of proportion - a bit like what happened with David Beckham's foot.

"That is how the medical experts are viewing it and, yes, there is a fracture but it has nothing to do with anything that has gone on before with Jonny."

Andrew is resigned to seeing Wilkinson put himself in harm's way once he gets back into action and will not attempt to get the England World Cup hero to change the way he plays the game.

Clive Woodward, England's head coach, and Andrew would both like Wilkinson to leave the heavy-duty tackling that causes the majority of his neck and shoulder problems to the forwards. But making the big hits is a huge part of why Wilkinson plays the game, although Andrew believes there are signs that his fly-half is wising up. …

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