WALES are excited to be testing themselves against the best after being drawn against hosts and defending champions New Zealand at next year’s World Cup.

The Welsh women will be up against the Black Ferns, Australia and the final qualifier, with Ireland and Scotland in the mix for that spot.

The tournament takes place in September and October with Wales this week appointing head coach Warren Abrahams to spearhead their preparations after a disappointing Six Nations.

Wales legend Rachel Taylor has joined his management team and the skills coach is relishing the challenge of facing the champs, who last weekend lost their spot at the top of the world rankings to England.

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“Playing the hosts New Zealand is huge. When we played hosts France to open the 2014 tournament, the atmosphere for the players was epic and it will be the same for our players next year,” said Taylor, who played in three World Cups.

“We all know about the quality New Zealand will bring, they have consistently been the best team in the world for a number of years. It will be incredibly tough but it’s all about our mindset now.

“Australia will be another hugely exciting match. We’ve had some great encounters against each other, they are always physical and can be ruthless on their day.

“Having the draw just makes it all very real and brings that injection of urgency and excitement about rugby matches that is very welcome after the year we’ve all had.”

Wales finished seventh in the 2017 tournament in Ireland and captain Siwan Lillicrap believes they can rise to the occasion after a winless Six Nations.

“It will be great to test ourselves against southern hemisphere teams that we don’t get to play very often, and to play New Zealand as hosts will be something very special,” said the back rower.

“We played them in 2017, they are current champions and a real benchmark in the sport. It can only be good for us and what better place to rise to that challenge than New Zealand.

“Knowing two of three of our pool opponents really focusses the mind and gives us a target to prepare for.”

The Irish, Scots and Italians will be joined by another European team for a qualification tournament, which was postponed because of coronavirus and will now be in the new year.