All Blacks coach Hansen plays down England World Cup threat

Thursday, 18 May, 2017

The 2003 champions were bracketed alongside France and Argentina in Pool C as lightning struck twice following a brutal draw at the 2015 tournament.

The Six Nations winners face another tough start against France, three times losing finalists, and Argentina but England coach Eddie Jones scoffed at the idea it was a deadly draw. "I need to pray really hard", he said.

Two-time champion Australia is in Pool D with Wales, Georgia, Oceania 1 and Americas 2.

The Springboks were drawn in Pool B for the 2019 showpiece, alongside the All Blacks, Italy and two yet to be determined nations (Africa 1 and Repechage winner).

Wales will take on the Wallabies, Georgia and qualifiers Oceania 1 and Americas 2 in another potentially tricky group.

"To win the World Cup, you have to win seven games".

"I'm excited by the draw", said Jones.

"We've got two very big games in our pool against France and Argentina so it's great preparation for getting to the final stages".

"That frustration can build up and what we need to make sure is that we create an environment where the players are comfortable with their situation".

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"Japan obviously made a memorable impact at the World Cup two years ago, beating South Africa, and will have tremendous support going into the tournament". We will get to understand each other a bit more over the next two years before we play here in 2019.

Interestingly if the top four in the betting finish top of their respective groups - which they are all odds-on to do - England and New Zealand will be on one side of the knockout draw and Ireland and Australia on the other.

They said: "You've got to plan for those teams you're playing, do the homework, but at the end of the day, it's going to be all about how we play".

England are also set to face either the United States or Canada and Fiji or Samoa in a devilish group.

"They're one of our rivals, along with South Africa, Australia and France".

Prior to the draw taking place, World Rugby voted to increase the period of residency to become eligible for an global team from three to five years.

No team has ever lost in the pool stage and gone on to win the trophy outright.

Ireland and Scotland will meet in Pool A, which also contains hosts Japan.

The draw took place 2 1/2 years ahead of the Rugby World Cup to allow organizers time to sort out the match schedule and ticketing, confirm venues, and arrange base camps.