Six Nations 2014: O'Driscoll talks up Jackson talents
Brian O'Driscoll says Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson deserves his chance to start Ireland's Six Nations match with Italy if Jonny Sexton is ruled out.
Sexton is a doubt with a thumb injury which his club Racing Metro believe could keep him out of Saturday's Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium.
"If he gets his opportunity Jackson has his own qualities that he brings to a game," said centre O'Driscoll, 35.
"I played with Jacko last year and he's played really well in this season."
The Leinster player added: "He deserves his chance, albeit he is playing behind one of the best 10s in the world, so certainly if the situation arose [that Sexton was not fit to face Italy] we are lucky that we have strength in depth at out-half."
O'Driscoll, who will become the world's most capped player when he wins his 140th [132nd for Ireland, eight for the Lions] on Saturday, is blocking out the emotion surrounding his final home Test in an Ireland jersey as he looks to end his career on a winning note.
He insisted that Ireland must improve on their performance against England if they want to stay in the hunt for the Six Nations championship title.
"I'm not really that emotional, I won't allow the build-up to affect me," he said.
"I'm sure aspects will be difficult, I'll be sad but I just want to go out on a high, that's the focus."
With four teams tied on two wins each going into round four of the Six Nations, the 35-year-old rejected the notion that Ireland will go into Saturday's match with Italy expecting to run up a big winning total.
The game is first and foremost about winning by any margin, he claimed.
"You have to think about the processes and about being clinical in finishing our opportunities," he said.
"And if that means that the Italian team we face has a brilliant day, then that means getting across the line.
"We've got too much respect for them. They are capable of beating anyone in the championship, and England are the only team they haven't beaten in the Six Nations.
"So, we're absolutely aware that they're a team very much on the up. We'll have our work cut out to contain them and beat them."
O'Driscoll hinted that it would be a huge boost to Ireland ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup if Sexton can be bought out of his Racing Metro contract and returns home to an Irish club.
"He (Sexton) is contracted to Racing and I think it would be disrespectful to them to say that we're looking to take him away from them," said O'Driscoll.
"I think everyone is in agreement that we didn't want to see him go, and if a situation arose where he did come back and some agreement was made, well I don't see that as being possibly a negative.
"I know that he'd be welcomed back into the provincial fold and I know the national management would like to control his game time a little bit more than they currently can."