CONFIRMED: Conor Murray ruled out of All-Blacks clash

CONFIRMED: Conor Murray ruled out of All-Blacks clash

Joe Schmidt will let Conor Murray decide himself whether the British and Irish Lions scrum-half should make a surprise return against New Zealand.

"So we'll have a great plan, we'll have some experiences of what's worked against them in the past, what hasn't worked and where they are the most unsafe but then you've got to go out and implement it". Chicago was a great band aid, but two weeks later we were very, very much in the game, and it was very tough, very, very tough.

Ireland finally beat the All Blacks with a 40-29 win in Chicago in 2015 but the Irish coach still feels he has a score to settle with his native land.

"I'd be delighted if we can be as competitive as the last three times we've played them", Schmidt said. "It's highly unlikely that he will be involved but I will talk to him tomorrow".

So it was no surprise to hear Schmidt reveal in the leadup to this weekend's hugely anticipated champion of the hemispheres showdown against the All Blacks at Dublin's Aviva Stadium that the 2013 last-gasp defeat to the New Zealanders at the same venue continues to haunt him.

Ireland lost the luckless Sean O'Brien to a broken arm in Saturday's patchy 28-17 victory over Argentina in Dublin. 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.

"Kieran just rolled his ankle a little bit".

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 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 it not be an issue going forward", said Sexton. "I think the guys up front did the damage and that was what allowed him and Sexton to play".

All Blacks legend Richie McCaw believes New Zealand would be prepared to dispense with their policy of only appointing head coaches from within if they deem Joe Schmidt to be the best possible successor to Steve Hansen.

He expects New Zealand to hit a purple patch, and then it's how well Ireland adapts.

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