All Blacks avoid 2015 World Cup pool of death
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had few complaints when the 2015 World Cup draw was made in London early this morning.
The 2011 world champions have been placed into Pool C, along with Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1 and Africa 1 and have a clear path in front of them all the way through to the semi-finals.
Argentina will clearly be the All Blacks' strongest opposition, but they are likely to be New Zealand's only tough challenge in the pool phase.
Tonga will pose a physical threat, as they did in the opening game of last year's World Cup, but the All Blacks should be able to see them off without too much trouble.
The other two teams in the pool will be determined by the qualification process, but it could well be that it will be Georgia, Romania or Russia being the Europe 1 team and Namibia as Africa 1.
"From our point of view the draw is pretty satisfying at this stage," Hansen said.
"Argentina will be tough, we have got a physical component from the Tongans, we don't know who the other two are yet but it's about getting first or second in that pool, then you go into the knockout stage.
"A lot of things will change between now and then, so what looks like a really strong pool could turn out to be a weak pool.
"Now we know what we've got, we'll slip back into getting ready for next year and the first thing to do for that is to have a good break."
If the All Blacks win their pool, and there is no reason to see why they won't, they will probably play Ireland in the quarter-finals.
Their semi-final opponent should be the winner of the match between South Africa and either England, Wales or Australia.
However, Hansen thought there was no need to start pondering that far ahead just yet.
"It is way too early to be thinking about that, they are possibilities, but the reality is for us is that we've just finished a massive season and a very successful one.
"We need to make sure we recover mentally and physically so we can start up again next year."
The group of death is clearly Pool A, with Australia, host nation England and Wales all drawn together, along with Oceania 1 (which should be Fiji) and a playoff winner.
Samoa will feel optimistic about progressing through to the quarter-finals as they have been drawn in Pool B along with South Africa and Scotland.
France should finish top of Pool D, while the second placed position should be determined by the game between Ireland and Italy.