Conor Murray has not linked up with Ireland this week ahead of their clash with Argentina in Dublin on Saturday, assistant coach Greg Feek has confirmed.
Scrum-half Murray continues his rehab from a long-term neck injury and was omitted from Ireland’s 42-man squad for the Autumn Internationals.
The Munster star did link up with Ireland for three days of training last week, prompting New Zealand boss Steve Hansen to joke it could all be an “Irish trick” and that Murray could yet face the All Blacks in Dublin on November 17.
But now Ireland’s scrum coach Feek has confirmed British and Irish Lions star Murray has not met up with boss Joe Schmidt’s squad this week, leaving him a long shot to feature against either New Zealand or the USA.
Asked about Murray, Feek said: “Yeah, he’s not in camp. Again it’s another one that we’re just monitoring and I’m still getting up to speed with all that as well.
“It’s something that obviously not being here this week, they’re freshening him up and it is just trying to tick some boxes to get back in the frame.
“We already have three half-backs there so there’s no point in carrying one more.”
Murray’s absence from Ireland’s Carton House training base this week means the accomplished half-back will certainly miss Saturday’s Test clash with Argentina in Dublin.
All Blacks boss Hansen opted to keep it light last week when quizzed on Murray’s possible availability to face his team on November 17 in Ireland.
“Is Conor really going to be out or is it an Irish trick? Or is it the truth?” Hansen joked, after New Zealand’s 37-20 victory over Australia in Yokohama.
“Conor’s a great player and it’s really disappointing for both Ireland and us that’s he’s not playing. They’ll miss him but what a wonderful opportunity for somebody else to step up.”
Ireland’s injury outlook for Saturday’s clash also leaves Leinster full-back Rob Kearney continuing to battle for fitness. Feek rated the 32-year-old’s chances at “50 per cent”, with Jordan Larmour waiting in the wings to start if required.
“He’s probably in the middle 50 per cent,” Feek said of Kearney. “Everyone else is tipping away. Rob was working with the physios today. We will see how he goes but it is just a case of getting there.
“We will wait and see how he comes through. He was doing stuff with the medics and is on his return [to play].
“Hopefully things will progress for him. Firstly Rob Kearney is Rob Kearney, he’s a good man to have in the team, offers a lot of experience.
“In saying that we have good depth in the squad. This series is all about that, testing our depth in the squad, making sure that people can slot in and things can carry on.”
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