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November 27 2017 2:30 AM
Ireland will have one more chance to take on the All Blacks before the 2019 World Cup in a year's time with the world champions set for a Dublin re-match next November.
And Joe Schmidt is open to the idea of taking on New Zealand twice if an agreement could be reached on an additional game like the one that took place in Chicago last season.
The head coach revealed that his side would face Argentina again in 12 months' time, but the main draw of the window will be another meeting of the teams who have produced three classics during Schmidt's time in charge.
A Tier 2 side will make up the fixture list, but Schmidt has been focused on exposing his players to Rugby Championship opposition as often as possible between World Cups.
Unless an additional fixture can be organised, they will have taken on New Zealand three times since their World Cup quarter-final exit in 2015, Australia and South Africa four times and Argentina twice.
"You never know the Tier 2 (team) until later but I think it is Argentina and New Zealand," he said. "At this stage (it is just three games). Again, we'll always get asked for a fourth game.
"We are very conscious of looking after the provinces as well. Wales playing next week (against South Africa) - the week before Europe - I think it makes it very tough for their regional teams leading into Europe. It is a little bit of a compromise I suppose.
"We haven't had a formal request from anyone yet but if there is one, as we got for the match in Chicago, then we'd consider it if it comes up and we'd try and stay in touch with the provincial coaches and see if we can make it work."
Meanwhile, Schmidt was optimistic Jamie Heaslip and Jared Payne can play a part in Ireland's Six Nations.
No 8 Heaslip has not played since injuring his back in the warm-up before the final Six Nations win over England in March, while Payne has been suffering migraines since the Lions tour in July and has yet to feature for Ulster this season.
"I spoke to Jamie recently and he's rehabbing along, and I certainly wouldn't discount it at the moment," he said.
"I wouldn't discount Jared either. I haven't spoken to Jared since the start of the Guinness Series. I spoke to him just prior to that and he felt he was making good progress.
"I actually thought that he was potentially going to play, the plan was that he might play this weekend.
"They've obviously put that back a bit but he's incredibly influential when he plays for us."