The All Blacks have drawn host nation France in their pool for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The official draw was held overnight Tuesday (NZ time), with the 12 qualifiers from Japan learning their fate for the tournament in just under three-years time.
For the fifth time in World Cup pool play, the All Blacks will play Italy, having also drawn the European nation in 2019, although the match was cancelled because of concerns around an incoming thunderstorm.
The match against France will mark the eighth time New Zealand and France have met at a Rugby World Cup - a record - with the two sides having contested two finals in 1987 and 2011.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster revealed he is a huge admirer of the French side, who have secured seven wins in nine tests in a promising year under coach Fabien Galthie.
"Obviously to have France in our pool is going to be very special, I've not doubt they will be organising a superb World Cup," Foster said.
"You can see all their planning is around 2023 so we can expect a vibrant French team.
"We know they'll have massive support behind them. But that's what makes World Cups so special, those sort of games that we thrive on and look forward to."
New Zealand, the only team to have never lost a pool game, beat France at the same stage in 2011 and again in the final..
"Some people will think it's not good to be drawn with the home team but the flipside is that you get the chance to put a marker down," Foster added.
"We've seen before that finalists can come out of the same pool. If you play France in the pool it means you're not playing them in the first knockout game which can be an advantage."
The All Blacks will also play qualifiers from the Americas and Africa, meaning the likes of the USA, Canada, Uruguay, Namibia or Zimbabwe could provide opposition in 2023.
20 teams in all will be in France in four groups of five teams, and as with the last several World Cup's, the top three from each group will earn automatic qualification for the next tournament.
The World Champion Springboks appear to have been drawn in the 'pool of death' alongside Six Nations heavyweights Ireland and Scotland.
Australia will play Wales and Fiji while England have drawn 2019 quarter-finalists Japan, and Tri Nations giant-killers, Argentina.
The 2023 RWC will take place from September 8 to October 21 at nine venues.
The All Blacks have won the Rugby World Cup three times: the inaugural competition in 1987 and back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2015.
2023 Rugby World Cup Pools
Pool A: New Zealand, France, Italy, Americas 1 and Africa 1
Pool B: South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Asia / Pacific 1 and Europe 2
Pool C: Wales, Australia, Fiji, Europe 1 and Final Qualifier Winner
Pool D: England, Japan, Argentina, Oceania 1 and Americas 2