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Rory Best vows rusty Ireland will polish up for All Blacks clash



Rory Best

Rory Best

Rory Best

Ireland were far from their Grand Slam winning standard against Argentina on Saturday night but Rory Best is adamant they will be ready for the All Blacks this weekend.

The top two sides in the world go head to head in Aviva Stadium on Saturday night with Joe Schmidt's men coming off a largely sloppy 28-17 win over Argentina.

Ireland's 10th home victory in a row came courtesy of tries from Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki and Luke McGrath but there was plenty of rust on show too.

"We always look to improve," said captain Best. "There were some areas that we certainly need to get better.

"We'll be better for another week together. It's hard to put a figure on it but we know we need to be better."

Among the areas where Ireland struggled was the line-out.

"When we saw their team, picking three second rows, we felt they'd target us there," added Best. "They were moving around and sometimes, with your process, they guess right.

"We got ourselves back together and won a few scrappy ones but sometimes you have to get the ball back. We'll be better and have more cohesion next week."

The captain was in no mood for making excuses though, even on an evening when injuries meant they lost Robbie Henshaw during the warm-up and Sean O'Brien in the first half.

"We were probably a wee bit slow out of the blocks but, look, Argentina are a quality side and it is another win for us with some good stuff and some things we will need to get better for next week."

Best added: “It has been a long time since this group has played together. The boys did well last week but they were a wee bit slow out of the blocks as well. Robbie dropping out in the warm-up, but we are used to all that.

“We will not look for excuses. We will look to see how we get better, how we improve and build into next week again.

“We knew Argentina would be physical, they would make it very difficult for us, they would be good at the breakdown and good at the setpiece.

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“It was a real challenge. There were a couple of times when the game was in the balance and we just had enough character and we got together and we made the most of the few chances that we got.”

Meanwhile, Conor Murray will be “firing on all cylinders” if he makes his first appearance of the season against New Zealand, according to Iain Henderson.

Scrum-half Murray has not played since injuring his neck on Ireland’s summer tour of Australia, but could yet face the All Blacks in Dublin on Saturday.

Ireland omitted Murray from their 42-man autumn Test squad, but boss Joe Schmidt has now admitted that was mainly to not put undue pressure on the British and Irish Lions half-back to return this month.

Now though, Ireland lock Henderson insists Murray can return in peak condition and form if pressed into service at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

“If Conor were to come back in, I have no doubt in my mind that he would be back firing on all cylinders if he steps back in to play,” said Henderson.

“But we just have to wait and see how his fitness is, how he slots back in to the training regime.

“And if that’s going to happen, brilliant, but if it doesn’t, we’ve got three scrum-halves there, any of whom will step up to the challenge if selected.

“Murray has been a massive part of our game over the last few years, he’s a quality player.

“We have quality players there, and they all know how to play the game we want to play. Joe has full confidence in all of them as well.”

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