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)
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Having named an unchanged starting XV for the past three Aviva Premiership games, Gloucester Rugby ring the changes and retain only five players for Thursday's visit of Stade Rochelais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 7:45pm).