By Ciarán Kennedy of RugbyPass.com
Andy Farrell has confirmed that Ireland will head to New Zealand for a three-test tour in 2022.
Speaking shortly after the pool draw for the 2023 Rugby World Cup was made in Paris, the Ireland head coach confirmed the tour as he provided a rough idea of how Ireland's fixture list is shaping up in preparation of the tournament.
Ireland have been drawn in Pool B of the 2023 World Cup where they will play reigning champions South Africa and Scotland, as well as two yet to be confirmed teams from the Asia Pacific and European qualifiers.
And Farrell says the 2022 tour of New Zealand, which will be Ireland's first of the country since 2012, is "the type of challenge we would want" ahead of a World Cup campaign. The All Blacks ended Ireland's 2019 World Cup with a dominant 46-14 quarter-final win.
Ireland, who have never beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand, are also set to play Ian Foster's side in Dublin in 2021 as part of their Autumn Series fixtures.
"We know where the journey [over the next few years] is heading to, obviously the pool stages have just been announced and we're heading to France," Farrell said.
"There's a few gaps along that journey that need to be filled in because of Covid, etc, but what we do know for sure is that the Six Nations will carry on being played, so we'll get to play Scotland twice, again Murrayfield next year, which is always a massive challenge for anyone.
"Then obviously with the Lions tour, what an opportunity for the Scots and the Irish boys to put their hand up during this Six Nations and get on that tour and learn all about what it's like to take the world champions on in their own backyard. There is nothing more exciting for a player than that.
"And then what we do know for sure at this point in time, there's a tour a year out from the World Cup to New Zealand, which is a three-test tour, which is going to obviously be a massive challenge for us, but it's the type of challenge we would want going into a World Cup year.
"And then hopefully we get to go to the Pacific Nations in the summer , if that happens with Covid etc, we'll see how that works, but we're super excited about that.
"And then hopefully along the way in the Autumn Series that is going to come for the next couple of years, hopefully we can get to play South Africa again as an Irish side.
"So like I said, the journey is mapped out, there's a few little holes to fill in, but it's a big old couple of years ahead for all of us."