New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has not wavered in his belief that Conor Murray will start for Ireland in Saturday's Test at the Aviva Stadium.

Murray hasn't played this campaign due to a neck injury and wasn't even named in Joe Schmidt's 42-man Autumn International squad.

That has not dampened speculation that the scrum-half could reappear this weekend, and after suggesting two weeks ago that talk of Murray's absence could be "an Irish trick", Hansen reiterated that stance on Sunday evening after his team touched down in the Irish capital.

"I'm assuming Conor Murray will play, so they have a good spine," he said.

"They're a good team. Tactically they're smart, they're good in the air. Murray and Sexton are two of the best players in the world so they'll drive them around the park good.

"Big players get up, and if they think they’re right to play, then let them play. They’re competitors and Conor Murray is a real competitor, so if he says he’s right to play, he’ll be right to play.

"I believe Murray will play. I just think he’ll play. I’m not saying that to stir any trouble, I just think he’s a real competitor, he’ll want to play and if he’s got a chance, I reckon he'll play.

"If that’s one of our guys in the same boat, they’d be putting their hand up to play."

The All Blacks squeezed past England on Saturday in tough conditions at Twickenham. Accepting his men will need to up the ante, Hansen predicted the clash with the Irish is "going to be a goody".

"It's numbers 1 and 2 [in the world] so whoever wins will be the best side in the world regardless of ranking."