Pool B: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1, repechage victor.
England, coached by former Japan boss Eddie Jones is in Pool C alongside France, Argentina, Americas 1 and Oceania 2.
Then, they faced Australia, England, Fiji and Uruguay and reached the quarter-finals in second place behind the Wallabies at the expense of the host nation.
Twelve teams were included in Wednesday's draw by virtue of finishing in the top three of their groups at the 2015 tournament.
"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".
One of the myriad of possibilities within the draw could see a Rugby Championship dominated pool with New Zealand or Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
The Wallabies have won their past 12 Tests against the Red Dragon, including their pool match at the 2015 World Cup in Britain en route to the final, and last lost to Warren Gatland's side in 2008 in Cardiff.
"South Africa are a team that knows us very well, we know them very well and there's a lot of good history between the two teams", he said.
While few tournaments play out exactly as planned - for example England's demise in pool play at the last edition - should the All Blacks top their group, they will likely face Scotland in the quarterfinals.
It will be the first time the two nations meet in the pool stage. "By time World Cup comes around any one of those sides could win", Hansen said.
Third-ranked Australia landed in Pool D with eighth seeds Wales at Wednesday night's draw in Kyoto, along with Georgia and two yet-to-be-determined qualifiers from Oceania and the Americas 2 division.
Band One:New Zealand, England, Australia and Ireland.
Hansen's New Zealand are striving to complete a hat-trick of World Cup victories and underline their dominance of the sport.
"As I said before the draw was made, to us it doesn't matter who we are drawn against because to win the Rugby World Cup you have to beat the best teams out there", Springboks coach Allister Coetzee said. "Rugby is on the up in Japan and everyone is looking forward to playing here".
The other two teams in the pool will be the North and South America qualifier, likely to be either US or Canada, and the second-best Oceania qualifier - one of Fiji, Samoa or Tonga.