DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland have shot down the possibility of inspirational scrumhalf Conor Murray making a sooner than expected return from injury against world champions New Zealand when they meet in Dublin on Saturday.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on Sunday said he thought Murray, who has not played since suffering a neck injury on tour in Australia last June, would be brought back to face his side this weekend.
But a statement from Irish Rugby on Monday cut short any speculation.
“Conor Murray is accelerating through his recovery but will not join the squad,” it said.
Hansen had said he was assuming Murray would play despite the injury.
“I just think he’ll play. I’m not saying this to stir any trouble,” the Kiwi coach told reporters on arrival in Dublin.
“Big players get up. If they think they are right to play, let them play. They are competitors and if Conor Murray says he is all right to play, he is all right to play.”
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had said after their 28-17 win against Argentina that he would speak to Murray but leave any comeback decision to the 29-year-old, who has been one of world rugby’s star performers in recent years.
Murray had trained with the Irish squad before they went to Chicago for their test against Italy and last week with Munster.
The scrumhalf is joined on the sidelines by Robbie Henshaw, who has not recovered from a hamstring injury and will play no part in the November tests, which also include a meeting with the United States in Dublin on Nov. 24.
Ireland also lost flanker Sean O’Brien, whose comeback from injury after a year on the international sidelines, was ended prematurely by a broken arm on Saturday.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by David Goodman)