The first decision taken by Woodward when he named his side to face the Bay of Plenty at the Rotorua International Stadium, was to ask Wales centre Shanklin if he would shift out one position and fill the left wing berth. The position is hardly alien to Shanklin who spent much of his early days in Wales filling in on the wing for the injured Mark Jones and or Shane Williams.
However, Woodward still felt obligated to check out Shanklin's willingness before finalising his XXII for a game which is likely to set the trend for this most difficult of excursions Down Under.
"He did ask me whether I was comfortable playing there," said Shanklin, who was instrumental in midfield during Wales's charge towards the Grand Slam this season. "I almost bit his hand off. In effect he was asking me whether I wanted to play for the British & Irish Lions in the opening match of the tour. I didn't have to think too hard about it. I just said yes and scooted off to celebrate."
That being the case, Shanklin has spent much of his week brushing up on his flank play and learning how to 'goal hang' on the outside of tomorrow's centres Gavin Henson and Brian O'Driscoll.
"It will be interesting playing outside of two such attack mnded players. I suppose I will do a bit of goal hanging and you never know I might get a chance or two during the game," said the former Saracens star. For Shanklin and Henson in particular, tomorrow's game at the International Stadium represents a gilt-edged opportunity to further press for a place in Woodward's selection frame ahead of the first Test. A number of others had their chance and subsequently wasted it in Cardiff two weeks ago, leaving the Grand Slam winning pair with an early chance to lay down a marker.
The same goes for Martyn Williams, Dwayne Peel and Gethin Jenkins although the learned judge suggests that all three of those players start the tour in a slightly more comfortable position. In essence, all three would have to play themselves out of the Test team rather than into it.
Peel is clearly the number one scrum-half, ahead of Matt Dawson and our own Gareth Cooper, whilst Jenkins and Williams should provide the Welsh meat to the English sandwich in terms of the front and back rows.
Jenkins plays alongside Scotland's Gordon Bulloch and England prop Matt Stevens in an exciting and very mobile front row, whilst Williams teams up with the experienced English pair of Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill in a back row that oozes class and no fewer than 197 international caps.
The Bay of Plenty welcome back their Super 12 players from Waikato duty and will provide a serious physical challenge. However, the Lions must stand up to that and meet the challenge head on. Jenkins said: "We don't that much about them, but that's is of no real concvern. We have to concentrate on ourselves and make sure we are up to scratch."
Woodward said: "They will be a strong, physical unit with a point to prove against us. We have to make sure that we concentrate and play well and stand up to the challenge."
The Lions did suffer something of a blow yesterday evening when Irish lock Malcolm O'Kelly was told that his tour was over due to the nagging abdominal injury which had kept him out of the game against Argentina in Cardiff. The word around Auckland last night was that Wales lock Brent Cockbain; one of a dozen players on standby, would get the nod to team up with his fellow Welshman down here, but as the latest saga unfolded, Woodward confirmed that yet another Englishman, Simon Shaw, would be joining the part on Sunday.
Shaw's added experience and ability to jump in the middle has obviously given him the edge, but Cockbain can count himself unlucky not to have been given the call, expecially when you consider that he was one of the most consistent performers in this season's Six Nations and that Shaw has not played for England for more than a year.
British & Irish Lions: J Lewsey; M Cueto, B O'Driscoll (capt), T Shanklin; R O'Gara, D Peel, G Jenkins, G Bulloch, M Stevens, P O'Connell, B Kay, R Hill, M Williams, L Dallaglio
Replacements: S Thompson, A Sheridan, D O'Callaghan, M Corry, M Dawson, C Hodgson, G D'Arcy
Kick-Off: 7.10pm (8.10am BST)
Venue: International Stadium, Rotorua
Referee: Paul Honiss (NZRFU)
Touch Judges: Steve Walsh, Kelvin Deaker (NZRFU)