Coach Andy Farrell has held out hope Johnny Sexton will be available when Ireland attempt to bounce back from a 42-19 first Test thrashing by the All Blacks.
Veteran playmaker Sexton has passed the second of three concussion tests since leaving Saturday’s match at Eden Park in the 31st minute after a collision.
“Johnny’s good, he’s in fine spirits,” said Farrell. “HIA three will hopefully be passed in a few days and if that happens, then it’s concussion not confirmed.”
That could mean Sexton, who had been at the heart of a fast-starting Irish side in Auckland, will be available when the teams meet in the second Test of their three-match series in Dunedin on Saturday.
Ireland led through Keith Earl’s fifth-minute try and dominated much of the opening half hour, only for the home side to take control and establish a 28-5 lead at half time before going on to secure a 42-19 win.
“I thought we created quite a bit actually, but ultimately… you’ve got to score points against the All Blacks, there’s no doubt about that,” said Farrell.
“Some of those tries that they scored, they didn’t have to work too hard for them and on the back of that there’s been some decent rugby that’s been played for us.
“But if you switch off for a second you pay for it, and the scoreline was obviously too big at halftime, wasn’t it?”
Ireland, who have never beaten New Zealand on the All Blacks’ home turf, had been looking to become the first team to beat them at Eden Park in 28 years, and Farrell was disappointed not to see his side make history.
“You don’t get many opportunities to break a record,” he said. “It’s an outstanding record and you can see why they hold that here.
“We’re gutted to lose but having said that, the players know what they did well and they know how the game flowed and the things that we need to fix to stay in the series for next week.'”