Ireland need to pass their French test.
It has been six years since the Irish last toppled France and a cruel twist of the fixture list ensures they face what has become their most difficult match first.
But Lions great Wood believes Ireland can win their first championship since 1985 with victory over Les Bleus placing them in pole position.
"Ireland have a boost in confidence over the last couple of months because the provinces have started doing well," said the former national skipper.
"I had no expectations for Ireland up until about three weeks ago, but they do have a chance.
"It's all about momentum though and we have the hardest game first, against France.
"If we lose it we have no momentum. If we win it then we're in a very good place."
Rob Kearney reverts to his best position at full-back, while Paddy Wallace comes in at inside centre, reforming the midfield partnership alongside Brian O'Driscoll seen on last summer's tour to New Zealand and Australia.
One of the constants in Irish rugby since Wood's retirement after the 2003 World Cup has been O'Driscoll's stranglehold on the captaincy.
And while Wood admits that position is now being challenged, he insists the in-form O'Driscoll remains the best man for the job.
"Many people think Paul O'Connell or Ronan O'Gara would be the right choice to lead Ireland. An awful lot depends on form," he said.
"Brian has been injured for an awfully long time, he's taken a lot of knocks. Everybody wants to see him get back playing as well as he can.
"If that happens then his way of leadership is fine. It's what he does himself that counts.
"It's a good position for Ireland to be in - when they decide on selection they have a few captains to pick from.
"I want to see Brian play fully fit, enjoying his rugby and if he does that then absolutely he's the best man for the job."
BACK AT THE BACK: Ireland's Rob Kearney
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)|
|Date:||Feb 6, 2009|
|Previous Article:||Cross aims to impress.|
|Next Article:||'Underdogs England can spring surprises' OFFICIAL BEER OF ENGLAND RUGBY GREENE KING IPA FORMER England star Lawrence Dallaglio runs the rule over the...|