Ireland training was cancelled this morning as Joe Schmidt’s men recovered from a bruising defeat to New Zealand.

But there is little time for rest with Australia looming large on the horizon (5.30pm Saturday, live on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ2).

“Australia got to the World Cup final this time last year, they’ve won their last three games, they’re going for a grand slam on the tour,” team manager Mick Kearney told RTÉ Sport.

“So players are under no illusion as to the challenge that faces them this weekend.

“At the end of the day they don’t have really any option but to get up for it and I’ve no doubt that they will.”

Two men, Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw are definitely ruled out of contention, while CJ Stander, Rob Kearney (both suspected concussion), Simon Zebo (cramp), Tadhg Furlong (dead leg) will be monitored throughout the week.

On the loss of the first centre and out-half, Kearney said: “If you look back at the Test match [win over New Zealand] in Chicago I think Robbie was probably our outstanding player so to lose Robbie after ten minutes was a massive blow.

“It’s a massive blow to lose him for the match against Australia this weekend, very disappointing from our point of view, certainly from Robbie’s point of view it’s even more disappointing.

“Johnny, he’s got a kind of a low-grade hamstring tear, which will rule him out. To lose that 10-12 disappointing.”

Kearney, who will step down as team manager after the game, also relayed his disappointment at the approach of the All Blacks, who were criticised for their over-physical approach to the game.

The match citing commissioner reviewed 11 incidents of possible foul play from the All Blacks, who have two players, Sam Cane and Malakai Fekitoa, facing disciplinary hearings tomorrow. 

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“[It] is disappointing in the extreme," said Kearney. 

“Certainly looking back at the game there was a number of tackles around the neck/head area.

“We know World Rugby issued an edict in the last week or ten days says saying that anything above the shoulder, neck, head area should be treated very severely.

“We felt that maybe that probably wasn’t quite the case at the weekend."

On the positive side, Ireland only conceded four penalties against the world champions and Kearney acknowledged that a loss to Michael Cheika’s Wallabies would cast a shadow over an erstwhile successful November.

“It’s a fantastic indication of where we’ve got to and how disciplined a team we are,” he added.

“It’s been what I would call a good November so far.

“We’d a great win in Chicago, we’d a good solid performance with eight new caps playing against Canada and we were really competitive against the world champions on Saturday.

“We were one point down [on aggregate] over the course of the two games.

“The players, the coaches and the management would be really disappointed if we failed to perform against a very good Australia team on Saturday.”