Sean McMahon reporting from the Aviva Stadium
Joe Schmidt refused to rule out Conor Murray from joining the Ireland camp at Carton House next week as his side prepares for the visit of the All Blacks next Saturday.
Murray is still recovering from the neck injury which has seen him absent since Ireland’s summer tour against the Wallabies.
However, although Murray wasn’t named in the original Ireland squad for the November series, there has been speculation that the Munster scrum-half could make his comeback against the No. 1 side in the world.
When Schmidt was quizzed on whether we will see Murray next week, the Ireland head coach confirmed he will speak to him tomorrow to find out.
“I’m going to chat to Conor and see how he is.
“It will really be Conor’s call, so I can’t answer that until I’ve chatted to him.”
In terms of not selecting Murray in the original squad, Schmidt revealed the reasoning was to not put any pressure on the 29-year-old.
“Well, again it was really to take the pressure off him. There was no compulsion to push himself forward or to come out and try to force himself into the frame unless he’s super comfortable.
“Because we’ve got three guys; Kieran Marmion did a super job, Luke McGrath came off the bench and did a good job and John Cooney came off the bench last week and did a good job. So, the window of opportunity for us is fantastic for those guys to demonstrate they can do a good job at the level.
“But Conor has that incredible capacity to exit us well, give us the free-flow and whip out a pass that makes him a world-class player. So those other guys are building towards that, and the best way to towards that is in the cauldron of Test match pressure.”
Schmidt also reiterates that it’s not necessarily the injury which Murray has which explains his squad omission, it’s more to do with allowing the player to make the decision himself in terms of when he is ready to return.
“It’s not the injury, it’s really just how ready Conor is. How fully fit he is. Because the injury itself has gone really well.
“So it is tough to come back into a game of that magnitude though. It is highly unlikely he will be involved, but as I said, I will talk to him.”