Ireland put end to Murray speculation

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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believes Saturday's eagerly anticipated showdown between New Zealand and Ireland in Dublin will lead to a simple outcome, with the winning side able to claim bragging rights as the best team in world rugby.

The British and Irish Lions scrum-half has not played since damaging his neck on Ireland's summer tour to Australia in June, and was omitted from the 42-man autumn squad.

"Joe rang me up and just said: "you haven't played", which was really fair enough".

All three matches Ireland have played against the All Blacks since Schmidt took over in 2013 have been close, with Ireland losing tight games twice at the Aviva Stadium and also recording a first ever win against New Zealand in Chicago in 2016.

In his post-match press briefing head coach Schmidt admitted it was "highly unlikely" that 29-year-old Murray would feature against the All-Blacks.

"His competitiveness, how combative he is, how keen he is to get involved - I thought he did a really good job", said Schmidt after the Argentina victory.

Hansen and Schmidt will probably avoid each other for much of the coming week as they prepare their sides for the mouth-watering clash between the world's two top-ranked sides in Dublin on Saturday.

"If he needs my advice, he'll ask me over a cold beer, a cup of coffee or something where we'll talk about it".

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Despite O'Brien's injury blow, Schmidt hopes Kieran Marmion and Robbie Henshaw will be fit to face the All Blacks.

Ireland will also be without Sean O'Brien to take on the back-to-back world champions New Zealand, after the Leinster flanker broke his arm against Argentina. We felt it would be a twofold risk, one would he do more damage and two, it's always hard if you have to replace someone five minutes into a Test match. But we'd be relatively confident he'd be okay.

"But we just have to wait and see how his fitness is, how he slots back in to the training regime".

Gritty Leinster flanker O'Brien has battled serious shoulder and knee issues in the previous year, and now faces possibly at least six more weeks on the sidelines.

"I don't think it really spills over into the narrative", he said.

"They're the type of games you want to play so I've no doubt it's going to be a similar intensity". So, with that prediction, it puts them into the mix [for New Zealand] for sure. I don't think so.

"For Ireland to win maybe New Zealand have to be average and Ireland have to be very good".

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