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RUGBY UNION: No looking back as Woodward unveils record-breaking Lions touring party.


ENGLAND'S retired World Cup heroes look unlikely to be considered by their former coach Sir Clive Woodward for the Lions tour of New Zealand next summer.

Although stars such as Lawrence Dallaglio, Martin Johnson and Neil Back are still playing top-flight club rugby, Woodward is set to concentrate his selection focus on the current international stage.

``Fundamentally, everyone is available, '' said Lions head coach Woodward, who announced a 26-strong management team in Cardiff yesterday.

``But I see the Lions (squad) being selected from people who are playing international rugby. If I feel we need to bring in a retired player, there would have to be a compulsive, cast-iron reason. ''

Next month's busy autumn Test schedule and the 2005 RBS 6 Nations Championship in February and March will provide Woodward with his main selection guides.

He has also insisted that no decisions have yet been made on the Lions captaincy, despite a recent report that Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll had been approached for the role.

The 44-man playing squad probably will not be announced until after the Six Nations finishes in late March, but Woodward's coaching and management party -- a record size for any Lions tour -- is now firmly in place.

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan, Woodward's England successor Andy Robinson and defence specialist Phil Larder will have responsibility for the weekend team, with former Lions boss Ian McGeechan, Llanelli Scarlets supremo Gareth Jenkins and ex Great Britain rug by league international Mike Ford taking charge of midweek games.

Woodward will oversee both groups, but stressed yesterday it was about two distinct coaching teams working with one pool of players.

``There are no preconceived ideas, and we won't be sitting down with two groups of 22 players, '' he added.

``It is about picking players who are on form and playing well. It is going to be very competitive, and it is about coming back with a Test series win. ''

Woodward's management team features 12 members of the England World Cup support staff -- Woodward, Robinson, Larder, kicking specialist Dave Alred, fitness coach Dave Reddin, team manager Louise Ramsay, video analyst Tony Biscombe, physiotherapist Phil Pask, masseur Richard Wegrzyk, chef Dave Campbell, kit technician Dave Tennison and Richard Smith, who will provide legal support.

That list is an inevitable end product, given Woodward's role as Lions chief. He knows that they are all tried and trusted in the international rug by environment. Robinson, Larder and Alred, key members of Woodward's World Cup brains trust, were involved with the 2001 Lions in Australia.


The British Lions coaching team (left to right): Andy Robinson, Ian McGeechan, Gareth Jenkins, Clive Woodward (head coach), Bill Beaumont (tour manager), Phil Larder, Eddie O'Sullivan, Mike Ford
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 22, 2004
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