New Zealand
Lions 'will need playmaking options' to challenge All Blacks in New Zealand
Martyn Thomas
November 6, 2015
© Steve Bardens - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Keith Wood is excited by the quality of fly-halves potentially available to the British & Irish Lions for their 2017 tour of New Zealand to play the Rugby World Cup holders.

The former Ireland hooker and two-time Lions tourist feels it is too early to be speculating on the exact make-up of the party, or indeed who will coach it, but he believes the squad could feature some interesting play-making options. "It's very tough two years out to start calling those names," he said. "You're trying to look at who are the guys to play different styles to be able to do different things and if you build them around some of the outside-halves you suddenly say 'wow'.

© David Rogers/Getty Images

"When you look at it, you could have Dan Biggar, who played incredibly well in the World Cup; you have Johnny Sexton, who is a very seasoned performer; and you have George Ford and Owen Farrell; you suddenly have the sense of players who are able to play a variety of different styles -- and that's the point.

"Are we going to be able to pick a squad that's going to be able to mix it up with New Zealand and play different styles down there? Because you can't just pick a team that's going to play in perfect dry weather."

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It is impossible to predict the exact make-up of the touring party, of course, with plenty of time for form and fitness to suffer. Concerns about the domestic and international rugby calendars -- and the effect they may have on player welfare -- have been raised recently, but Wood is adamant the Lions should not make way to free up room.

"My view is that this is something that's rare and unusual, something a little bit special within the firmament of international sport," he said. "There is something phenomenal about it. I have long been of the opinion that one year in the cycle of four between World Cups should be a year off.

"I don't think that international players should have to tour every single summer, I think it puts them a little bit under pressure."

Keith Wood was speaking on behalf of Canterbury, Official Apparel Partner of the British & Irish Lions who have marked the announcement with a commemorative re-issue of the 1959 shirt.

© Martyn Thomas

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