Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Hansen calls for respect after World Cup draw

The All Blacks have suffered too much World Cup misery to take anyone lightly in three years' time but Steve Hansen has reinforced the need for respect after the draw for the 2015 edition placed his team in the easiest of the four pools.

Argentina, Tonga and two countries from Europe and Africa, who are yet to be decided, make up the All Blacks' opposition in Pool C.

The Pumas, who the All Blacks beat twice in this year's new Rugby Championship, will be expected to provide the sternest opposition. The All Blacks beat Tonga 41-10 in the opening game of last year's World Cup at Eden Park before going on to be crowned world champions.

But although New Zealand, who have yet to lose a pool game in the previous seven global tournaments, will be expected to breeze through to the knockout stage, Hansen issued a warning following the draw in London overnight (early Tues morning).

"If you don't respect somebody, you are going to get your rear end spanked," Hansen said. "No one has a God-given right to go through to the quarter-finals."

If the All Blacks learned anything following their disappointments in previous World Cups it's that they cannot take any team lightly. For good measure, England served a timely reminder of that at Twickenham at the weekend when humiliating Hansen's men, but the men in white, who are in the "pool of death" alongside Australia and Wales, are unlikely to meet the All Blacks until the final if they top Pool A on home soil.

For the All Blacks, the spectre of France could loom large again. If the All Blacks top their pool, as expected, and the French finish runners-up in Pool D, the two teams could meet in the quarter-finals. France have Ireland and Italy, along with two nations yet to be decided, in their group.

The notoriously fickle French, who often struggle in pool matches - they lost to Argentina in 2007, and were thrashed by the All Blacks last year only to be a different proposition in the final - could once again decide New Zealand's fate.

France have knocked the All Blacks out of two World Cups - in the 1999 Twickenham semifinal and the quarter-final in Cardiff in 2007. They almost rained on New Zealand's parade last year but the All Blacks held on for an 8-7 victory to lift the cup for the first time since 1987.

If the All Blacks were to win their quarter-final in 2015, they could face either the Group B winner (South Africa or Samoa) or the runner up from Group A (England, Australia or Wales) in the semifinal.

While there was naturally plenty of interest in how the All Blacks fared in the draw - skipper Richie McCaw was involved in the process at the Tate Modern art gallery - England being drawn against the Wallabies and Welsh drew the most comment.

"As the draw was being made, it was nice to see that we weren't in that group," McCaw said.

England coach Stuart Lancaster added: "It's a tough pool. I guess it is fate that Wales and England would be put together."

South Africa and Samoa have been drawn together in the same pool for four consecutive World Cups.

The International Rugby Board said the draw for the 2015 tournament was made three years out due to "a number of critical logistical and preparation reasons".

Tickets will be available next year, the IRB said.

The identities of the eight remaining qualifiers for the four five-team pools will be known at the end of the qualifying process in 2014. The 2015 World Cup takes place from September 18 to October 31.

Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, repechage winner.

Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Asia 1, Americas 2.

Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 1.

Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 1, Europe 2.

QF1: Winner Pool B v runner-up Pool A.

QF2: Winner Pool C v runner-up Pool D.

QF3: Winner Pool A v runner-up Pool B.

QF4: Winner Pool D v runner-up Pool C.

SF1: Winner QF1 v Winner QF2.

SF2: Winner QF3 v Winner QF4

Bronze final: Loser SF1 v loser SF2

Final: Winner SF1 v winner SF2.

- APNZ

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