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, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).