The British & Irish Lions have sent out a strong message of intent by naming a powerful side to take on Bay of Plenty in their opening tour match at the weekend.
The team will be captained by Brian O'Driscoll and includes a number of favourites for Test selection.
"There is a huge sense of excitement and anticipation now our first game in New Zealand is so close," said Woodward.
"Because it's the first game, Bay of Plenty will want to give us a very tough match and we have selected a very strong side who will give us a good start to the tour."
Woodward has named key combinations, with Lawrence Dallaglio, Martyn Williams and Richard Hill starting in an experienced back row and Paul O'Connell locking an impressive Lions scrum with Ben Kay.
O'Driscoll will be partnered in the centres by Gavin Henson, the Welshman who returns from a groin injury to make his Lions debut.
Henson's Wales team-mate Dwayne Peel, considered favourite for the Test scrum-half berth, takes the number nine jersey while Ireland's Ronan O'Gara, a veteran of the 2001 Lions tour, starts at fly-half.
England's Josh Lewsey has been named at full-back while Tom Shanklin and Mark Cueto, who only joined the squad after Iain Balshaw withdrew injured from the tour, start on the wings.
"I was thrilled to hear I was selected," said Cueto. "Just over a week ago I didn't think I'd be here at all.
"To be in the team for the first match of the Tour is fantastic. I can't wait to get out there."
O'Driscoll is also raring to go after being rested for the Lions' send-off against Argentina because Woodward felt it was important that the tour captain leads the side out in Rotorua this Saturday.
"After all the waiting and the preparation it will be great to get out there and play the first match in New Zealand," said O'Driscoll.
"This is a strong side and we can't wait to get out in front of the New Zealand public and show what we can do on the rugby field."
The Lions expect a fierce collision with Bay of Plenty and hope it will lay ideal foundations for a Test series win over the All Blacks.
Four years ago the Lions racked up 199 points as they opened their tour of Australia with comfortable victories over Western Australia and a Queensland President's XV but ended up losing the 2001 Test series to the Wallabies.
This time round, coach Eddie O'Sullivan is convinced a tough start against Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and a Test-standard New Zealand Maori XV will be the ideal preparation for beating the All Blacks.
"Every game we play here in New Zealand we will be tested," O'Sullivan said.
"That makes a Lions tour unique and if we don't go into every game with that mentality we will get turned over. That starts in Rotorua where Bay of Plenty will try and throw the kitchen sink at us.
"We have got to get our heads around that very quickly. That will make us a better team. We will get to the Test side knowing all the players have been put through the mill and we know what we are picking from.
"It gives you the best opportunity to pick your strongest side to win the series. That is why we are playing all these tough games."
British & Irish Lions team to play Bay of Plenty in Rotorua on June 4 is: J Lewsey (Wasps and England); M Cueto (Sale and England), B O'Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland, capt), G Henson (Neath Swansea Ospreys and Wales), T Shanklin (Cardiff and Wales); R O'Gara (Munster and Ireland), D Peel (Llanelli and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff and Wales), G Bulloch (Glasgow and Scotland), M Stevens (Bath and England), P O'Connell (Munster and Ireland), B Kay (Leicester and England), R Hill (Saracens and England), M Williams (Cardiff and Wales), L Dallaglio (Wasps and England).
Replacements: S Thompson (Northampton and England), A Sheridan (Sale and England), M O'Kelly (Leinster and Ireland), M Corry (Leicester and England), M Dawson (Wasps and England), C Hodgson (Sale and England), G D'Arcy (Leinster and Ireland)
Speaking to the local media this week ahead of the Bath Rugby game, Head Coach Laurie Fisher stressed that the fundamental shape of Gloucester's game is in good shape but that the Cherry and Whites have to look after the ball better and make more of their scoring opportunities.
Skipper for the day Willi Heinz faced the cameras after the 13-18 home loss to Newcastle and expressed real frustration at not being able to back up last week's win at Sale, calling it a performance he and his team-mates are not proud of.
Speaking after the game, Charlie Sharples described it as 'the win that has eluded us.' The winger stressed that Gloucester had stayed positive after the first couple of weeks of the Aviva Premiership season and the 26-13 victory over Sale was a result of that focus.
Gloucester Rugby picked up their first win of the new Aviva Premiership season on Friday night, easing to a 26-13 win on the road at Sale Sharks. Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his players on the night.
Greig Laidlaw is back to skipper Gloucester Rugby in Saturday's Aviva Premiership derby game against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm. James Hook will make his first start of the season at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.
Wednesday evening saw the launch of the Cherry and White Wednesday show on the Drivetime programme on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, with Henry Trinder live in the studio to kick off a regular weekly slot.