Woodward: We will be ready

Sir Clive Woodward believes he is on course to deliver one of his primary tour objectives - producing a "fit and fresh" British & Irish Lions team for next week's first Test against the All Blacks. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Sir Clive Woodward believes he is on course to deliver one of his primary tour objectives – producing a "fit and fresh" British & Irish Lions team for next week’s first Test against the All Blacks.

The Lions head to Dunedin, and an appointment with Otago, as Woodward’s Test selection D-day draws ever closer.

Time is running out for players to make an impression before facing the All Blacks back in Christchurch, but head coach Woodward delivered an upbeat message from the Lions’ den.

"There is a very fine line between match preparation and picking up injuries and not playing at all," he said.

"The New Zealand team have done it one way – they’ve put their team in cotton wool for 15 days, probably longer – because the game against Fiji wasn’t really a big run-out for them.

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"We are doing it slightly differently, in that we are giving the players one, two games to get ready. Also, a lot of them are at the end of a long season, so you have got to take a lot of things into account.

"It’s not a science, you have just got use some common-sense and look at every individual player. I believe if we get our preparation right between now and the Test match, we will be in as good a shape as we can be," he added.

"The whole aim has been to make sure when Brian O’Driscoll runs out next Saturday, he’s got behind him a very well prepared, fresh team. I think I am on course to deliver that, and if we do, we’ve got a chance."

Woodward insists that chances remain to make a case for selection, both against Otago and when the Lions tackle Southland in Invercargill next Tuesday.

"If there are no injuries, then clearly, there are going to be players who don’t play much rugby," he said.

"If you look at the hookers and scrum-halves, there has been no injuries, but if you look at other positions like the back row, then we have been on a wing and a prayer.

"You are always going to get situations when players are going to be disappointed, but there is still plenty of rugby left in this tour to try and stake a claim for the Test team.

"Things have changed. This is not like the old days – every single team we play is incredibly physical and incredibly tough, and in my opinion, you can’t ask players to play more than once a week on a regular basis.

"You can talk all day about whether we are a game short or whatever, but we are where we are. The Test match is looming large, and I believe we will have a fresh, fit Lions team, and if we do that, we’ve got half a chance.

"To me, winning is what sport’s about. If you win, you tend to move forward with a bit of momentum. If you lose, it’s a setback.

"The Lions tours to this country and every country have changed so much. It’s not like it used to be, where you might kind of go out and play a second-rate team.

"Every game we play on this trip is full-on, and it doesn’t matter if you are playing Saturday or Wednesday.

"We have got to get rid of this lingo of ‘dirt-trackers’ because there are not enough games. We only play 11 matches, and it’s a midweek team only because it plays on a Wednesday. Apart from that, the definition goes out of the window."

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