Wallabies prepare for World Cup draw

Rugby World Cup
AAP
by AAP

Michael Cheika is bracing for another torrid draw ahead of what the Wallabies coach predicts will be the most competitive Rugby World Cup ever in 2019.

Cheika is en route to Japan for Wednesday night's draw in Kyoto (6pm AEST), where the Wallabies face the prospect of landing in the same pool as two of their Rugby Championship and 2015 semi-final rivals.

Cheika's Australian side defied the critics to negotiate the so-called Group of Death and reach the final at the 2015 World Cup in Britain, knocking out co-hosts England before topping Pool A ahead of Wales.

They then beat Scotland and Argentina in the playoffs before succumbing 34-17 to the All Blacks in the first-ever trans-Tasman World Cup final.

The third-ranked Wallabies are again guaranteed to avoid landing in the same pool this time as New Zealand, Eddie Jones' third-ranked England and fourth-seeded Ireland.

But less than two years after the southern hemisphere provided all four semi-finalists, the Wallabies could conceivably draw both South Africa and Argentina in the group stages of the ninth edition of the global showpiece.

Ranked an uncharacteristic seventh in the world, the Springboks are in Band Two alongside Scotland, France and Wales, while Argentina head Band Three, which also features Japan, Georgia and Italy.

The Wallabies will continue to be held to high standards. Photo: ARU Media/Stu walmsleyCheika on Tuesday said it was pointless worrying about who the Wallabies drew.

"Because there could well be three equally tough groups this time," told AAP from Tokyo.

"I think World Rugby is achieving what it set out to in creating a very level playing field.

"If you look at the 12 teams already nominated, it would have never before been the case where that third band of seeds would be so strong.

"Argentina were semi-finalists two years ago, Japan are hosts and have claimed some big scalps (including South Africa in 2015), Georgia have really improved, a big rugged side, and Italy can do anything on their day.

"And then you've got Fiji, who haven't even qualified yet.

"For us, it's more about getting ourselves right than worrying about other teams."

The Wallabies want their scrum to improve after a win over Fiji. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyHaving not finished in the top 12 in 2015, Fiji - along with their Pacific Island neighbours Tonga and Samoa - are fighting to make the 20-team tournament as one of eight regional qualifiers.

The global qualification process began in March last year and will conclude in November 2018.

World Cup draw

Band One: New Zealand (1), England (2), Australia (3), Ireland (4)

Band Two: Scotland (5), France (6), South Africa (7), Wales (8)

Band Three: Argentina (9), Japan (11), Georgia (12), Italy (15)

Band Four: Oceania 1, Americas 1, Europe 1, Africa 1

Band Five: Oceania 2, Americas 2, Play-Off Winner (between Europe 2 and Oceania 3), Repechage Winner.

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