'It will really be Conor's call' - Joe Schmidt says Murray will make decision on All Blacks availability
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says it it 'highly unlikely' that Conor Murray will feature against the All Blacks - but that the decision rests with the scrum-half ahead of the mouthwatering showdown next Saturday.
Murray hasn't played since Ireland's series-clinching victory over Australia last July, with a neck injury ruling him out of the opening portion of the season. The Munster star said in an interview that he was targeting a return at the end of November but speculation has mounted that he will be parachuted into the Ireland line-up to face the world champions at the Aviva Stadium.
It would be a gamble from Schmidt, but Ireland could do with a player of Murray's quality after an error-filled 28-17 win over Argentina.
Speaking after the game, the Ireland boss said that the decision on Murray's availability rests with the player.
"I'm going to chat to Conor and see how he is," Schmidt told RTÉ.
"It will really be Conor's call, so I can't answer that until I've chatted to him."
Schmidt added that the issue at moment around Murray - who was not named in the Ireland squad but has trained with the team - is match fitness.
"It was really to take the pressure off him," he said of not selecting Murray in the November squad.
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"There was no compulsion to push himself forward or to come out and try to force himself into the frame, unless he's super comfortable.
"It's not the injury, it's really just how ready Conor is, how fully fit he is because the injury itself has gone really well.
"So it is tough to come back into a game of that magnitude though.
"It is highly unlikely he will be involved, but as I said, I will talk to him."