Italy could hardly have been handed a tougher World Cup draw but Conor O’Shea says the prospect of facing New Zealand and South Africa is "exciting".
Former Ireland full-back O’Shea took over the Azzurri last year but after the initial high of a November win over the Springboks, the Italians failed to get a win under their belt in the Six Nations, with their smallest margin of defeat 21 points.
New Zealand are the holders, favourites and three-time winners of the trophy, while South Africa have won the competition twice.
"It’s incredible, it’s exciting, we’re playing against multiple world cup winners and you want to be playing against those when you arrive," said the RTÉ analyst after the Pool B draw.
"Our focus is not going to be any different. We’re making a lot of changes in Italian rugby.
"We’re going to arrive at that World Cup a much better side and be the best we can be.
"We’re on a road and we’re undergoing a process in Italian rugby to make it into the power that we want it to be. Every team is going to get challenged.
"Every team is going to be competitive but I feel we are going to arrive at that World Cup in a very good place.
"We’ll be the best we can be and see if results go our way but excitement is my initial reaction."