By Conor Power
New Zealand rugby head coach Steve Hansen has quipped that Conor Murray's injury could be an "Irish trick" ahead of their meeting later this year, before admitting the loss of the Munster player is a blow to the fixture.
The All Blacks side will be keen to continue business as usual against the Joe Schmidt-led outftit on 17 November in the Aviva Stadium, given the famous win for Ireland in Chicago two years ago.
Yesterday saw New Zealand complete a Bledisloe Cup encounter with Australia in dominant fashion.
They ran in five tries in front of 46,000 spectactors in Yokohama at the same venue Ireland are due to play their first World Cup group game against Scotland.
Of more immediate concern from an Irish perspective is the upcoming test against the All Blacks.
Hansen was asked if the injury to Murray – of which no detail has been revealed – is playing on his mind.
"Well I’m not sure about that blow," said Hansen, grinning and doing his best imitation of an Irish accent, and "if Conor’s really going to be out or if it’s an Irish trick, to tell you the truth."
He then took a more serious approach: "Look, Conor’s a great player and it’s really disappointing for the All Blacks and Ireland that he’s not playing. When you’re up against quality teams, you want all their players to be there.
"It’s called a Test Match for a reason and it’s about testing yourself so… we’ll miss him but, what a wonderful opportunity for somebody else to step up and play well for Ireland."