Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is relishing the chance to take on the world's best team in the pool stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The draw for the pool stage of the tournament in France was not particulary kind to Ireland who will face reigning world champions South Africa and Six Nations rivals Scotland in Pool B as they attempt to reach the quarter-finals.
If they reach the last-eight, Farrell's team will be up against a side from Pool A which would most likely be New Zealand or tournament hosts, France.
"It's fantastic. You're always going to judge yourself against the best and at this moment in time South Africa are number one in the world and rightly so," Farrell said in reaction to the draw of the pool which also includes a European qualifier and a Pacific/Asia nation.
"That's the great challenge for us and the rest of the group is pretty similar to the last World Cup, regarding Scotland and we'll look how the other draws shape up but it looks like similar type of teams in the last World Cup, that we could be coming up against again.
"It's certainly something that gets you thinking about the next steps and the journey ahead. We get to play Scotland every single year and the rivalry will continue, which is a really strong rivalry.
"South Africa, it looks like we could get to play them. Nothing's been confirmed yet but it looks like we might get to play them once before the World Cup, which would be great.
"There's a Lions tour [in South Africa] that's shaping up for the summer of next year and that could be a big opportunity for our boys."
Ireland will definitely face New Zealand before the 2023 World Cup. Farrell confirmed that Ireland will tour the country in the summer of 2022 and play three Test matches against the All Blacks.
The Irish boss was reluctant to get drawn into any discussion of permutations with regards to their possible opponents in the World Cup quarter-finals.
"Fortunately we get to play against France [in the Six Nations] and being able to have an opportunity to play against the hosts is always great, like we found in Japan," said Farrell.
"Obviously Italy, we get to play against them so we'll know them pretty well.
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"New Zealand, we'll probably get to play them once in the next couple of Autumn series hopefully, maybe once or twice, but there's a three-game tour in a couple of years time that takes us to New Zealand which is super-exciting and something to build on."