All Blacks v Ireland will decide rugby's top dog, says Steve Hansen

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Ireland confirmed on Monday that Murray would not take part in their autumn series, which ends against the United States next week, while his fellow 2017 Lion Robbie Henshaw has been ruled out of the final two matches after suffering a hamstring injury during Saturday's victory over Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.

But Ireland boss Joe Schmidt yesterday refused to rule Murray out of a sensational return against the All Blacks, saying it will be the player's call, even while admitting it was "highly unlikely".

Sexton, who believes New Zealand will have taken heart from the manner in which they came from 15-0 down to beat England 16-15 on Saturday, says the Irish will have to be at the level they were in securing the Six Nations Grand Slam last season.

Kieran Marmion started at No. 9 last Saturday and Luke McGrath was the reserve, and they should be the scrumhalves again against New Zealand on Saturday at Lansdowne Road.

"I obviously stayed in touch with Conor a lot over the injury to see how he has been getting on and all the time (he's been) improving but I suppose he's just trying to make sure he can get it right from now and not be an issue going forward", Sexton said.

Speaking to media in Dublin, Hansen said that rankings mean very little, with Sunday's victor taking the bragging rights into next year's World Cup in Japan.

Murray, who has formed a world class half-back partnership with Jonathan Sexton, is due to speak with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and tell him whether he is up to the formidable task of playing the world champions.

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"Because, you know, the two times we have played them here - I remember the roar in 2013 was phenomenal".

"These are the big games that you do all the work for, you do all the practise for".

"He's gutted, I'm gutted for him".

"I'll have a decent look again at this game (Argentina) and make some decisions off the back of that. But the guys that are available will do a great job I'm sure". We have had New Zealand on the radar for a while: you can't lie and say that it is just another game.

"There were bits we didn't get flawless but to win against Argentina having had two sessions together, we'll take some positives and some good learnings". "I step back on a Thursday and from then it's really player-driven".

The All Blacks may have won the last meeting, but it came with the British and Irish media accusing the world champions of pushing the boundaries of physicality as they set out to gain "brutal revenge" for the Chicago upset.

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