IRELAND could be at full strength for their World Cup quarter-final against the All Blacks.
Andy Farrell had injury concerns over five players – James Ryan (wrist), Mack Hansen (calf), James Lowe (eye), Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw (both hamstring).
But team manager Mick Kearney revealed there are hopes that the quintet could all be available for the last eight clash on Saturday.
Mick Kearney said: “James Ryan is seeing a specialist today and we’re hoping for better news than originally anticipated.
“We won’t have a definitive on James until after he sees the specialist but certainly there would be more optimism around James than probably what was originally anticipated.
“Mack Hansen took a bang to his calf but is improving. Both him and James Lowe are making good strides.
“Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw are both in contention as they progress during the week. Apart from that, just some usual bumps and bruises after a physical Test match.
“There are no call ups, no one added to the squad, and at this stage, no one ruled out for the match against New Zealand on Saturday night.”
The quarter-finals have been a common problem for Ireland at World Cups and this year is the second in-a-row that they face the All Blacks.
Tadhg Beirne believes his side are in a better shape than they were in 2019 when New Zealand cruised on through.
Ireland went 111 years without beating New Zealand until the win in 2016 under Joe Schmidt, now the All Blacks’ attack coach.
There have been four more Irish victories in the seven matches since with Beirne believing the Series success in New Zealand in 2022 is going to stand to them.
Beirne said: “It’s not just about the opponents, it’s more about the actual week, those kinds of weeks where you have to win.
“We lost the first Test and we knew going into the second Test we had to win or the tour was over.
“That’s what will stand to us, the pressure of those things.
“We’ll relish this week and we’ll look forward to the challenge ahead.
“You’ve seen how much New Zealand have grown as the competition has gone on.
“I’m sure they’ll be pretty excited to play us, considering last time out we came away with that Series win.
“They’ll certainly be looking to make some rights from that.”
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