We take a look at the four teams in Pool A at Women's Rugby World Cup 2017, which features 2014 runners-up Canada, four-time champions New Zealand, Wales and first-time qualifiers Hong Kong.

POOL B PREVIEW >>
POOL C PREVIEW >>

CANADA

Best finish: Runners-up (2014) 
Worst finish: Seventh (2012)
Women's Rugby World Cup record: Played 34 / Won 17 / Lost 15 / Drawn 2
Women's Rugby World Cup points scored: 734

Most capped player in squad: Kelly Russell, 48 caps

Did you know...? Canada became the fourth nation to contest a Women's Rugby World Cup final in 2014, going down 21-9 to England in Paris.

Coach: Francois Ratier
Captain: Kelly Russell

One to watch: Elissa Alarie
Described by her coach as a "game-changer" and a team-mate as "the magician" because of the x-factor she brings to the Canadian backline, Alarie is one of 18 members of the 2017 squad who reached the WRWC 2014 final in France. On that day in the French capital injuries meant she started at scrum-half and, while she was a livewire in the unfamiliar position, she's far more at home out on the wing – just ask New Zealand flyer Portia Woodman who had the job of stopping her when the Pool A rivals met in the International Women's Rugby Series in June! A try-scorer in that 28-16 defeat to the Black Ferns, Alarie has played sevens and 15s for Canada and will be looking to put her pace and quick feet to good use over the next three weeks in Dublin and Belfast. 

NEW ZEALAND

Best finish: Champions (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) 
Worst finish: Fifth (2014) 
Women's Rugby World Cup record: Played 27 / Won 25 / Lost 2 
Women's Rugby World Cup points scored: 1,227

Most capped player in squad: Fiao'o Faamausili, 47

Did you know...? The Black Ferns won 20 Women's Rugby World Cup matches in a row after losing to 7-0 to USA in the 1991 semi-finals ... until Ireland shocked them with a 17-14 win in the pool stages in 2014.

Coach: Glenn Moore
Captain: Fiao'o Faamausili

One to watch: Kendra Cocksedge (pictured)
Don't be fooled by her diminutive stature as the Black Ferns' number nine is one of the best players in the world, blessed with the vision to spot a gap in the defence and the quick feet to dart through it and race away to score herself or put a team-mate away. Named the World Rugby Women's Player of the Year in 2015, the 29-year-old has been at her sniping best this year, scoring four tries in the International Women's Rugby Series in June, including a brace against Pool A rivals Canada in a 28-16 win. The most experienced member of the New Zealand backline, her half-back partnership with Kelly Brazier will be key to unleash the dangerous outside backs as the Black Ferns bit to win a fifth title.  

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WALES

Best finish: Fourth (1994)
Worst finish: 11th (1998)
Women's Rugby World Cup record: Played 25 / Won 10 / Lost 14 / Drawn 1 
Women's Rugby World Cup points scored: 493

Most capped player in squad: Elen Evans, 68 caps

Did you know...? On the day the Welsh squad was announced, its youngest member Lleucu George won a bronze medal in rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas. 

Coach: Rowland Phillips
Captain: Carys Phillips

One to watch: Keira Bevan
The scrum-half had barely been playing the game six months when the last World Cup took place in 2014, but before that year had ended she'd already played for Wales in sevens. Her test debut swiftly followed, two months shy of her 18th birthday, against England in February 2015 in Wales' historic 13-0 victory and before the Six Nations had finished she'd a first start under her belt agaisnt the Italians. The 20-year-old has made the scrum-half spot her own over the last couple of years with her energetic displays in Welsh team building for the future and has 14 caps to her name.  

HONG KONG

Tournament debut

Did you know...? Hong Kong are the only squad at WRWC 2017 with a female coach in Jo Hull. Incidentally their sevens coach is also female in Anna Richards, a four-time Women's Rugby World Cup winner with New Zealand.

Coach: Jo Hull
Captain: CHOW Mei Nam

One to watch: Kelsie Bouttle
To say that the last few months have been a whirlwind for the centre is a massive understatement. Fresh from her first season of senior rugby with Valley, she joined the Hong Kong training squad in May and subsequently made her test debut in the 58-0 loss to Japan in the opening of the Asia Rugby Women's Championship last month, impressing coach Jo Hull enough to keep her place for the return match and then make the 28-strong squad for Hong Kong's debut on the Women's Rugby World Cup stage. The 18-year-old is a product of the national age-grade programme and the experiences she is able to gather from WRWC 2017 will only benefit the next generation when she shares them with her team-mates on her return. 

Who do you think will rise to the top of Pool A or spring a surprise along the way? Join the conversation @WorldRugby using #WRWC2017.