Munster unlikely to recruit new 10 after Bleyendaal forced to call time on career

Neck problem forces New Zealand-born outhalf to retire from playing at the age of 29

Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to retire from professional rugby at 29 due to a neck injury.Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to retire from professional rugby at 29 due to a neck injury.Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

 

It’s unlikely that Munster will look to recruit another outhalf following the news that the unfortunate Tyler Bleyendaal will retire from professional rugby due to a neck problem with immediate effect. The province boasts a roster that contains Ireland international Joey Carbery, JJ Hanrahan, Jake Flannery, Ben Healy and Jack Crowley.

Carbery (24) has won 22 caps for Ireland while Hanrahan (27) has generally acquitted himself excellently since returning to the province following his time at the Northampton Saints. Flannery and Healy , both 20, were an integral part of Ireland’s Under-20 Grand Slam success in 2019 and are members of the Munster academy while Crowley, also 20 and in the sub academy, was a standout player in this season’s abbreviated Six Nations campaign for Noel McNamara’s Irish 20s.

Bleyendaal was very unfortunate with injuries but despite these setbacks has proved a popular and respected member of the squad since joining from the Canterbury Crusaders in January 2015. A former New Zealand U-20 international, the original neck issue meant that he didn’t play his first game in the red shirt until the following season, in September 2015 against Benetton.

The 29-year-old went on to make 62 appearances primarily at outhalf but he also lined out at first centre. He captained the side on 11 occasions, scoring five tries and kicked 352 points.

In the 2016/17 season he started 25 of his 27 appearances, picked up four man-of-the-match awards, was instrumental in guiding the province to the Champions Cup and Pro12 semi-finals and was honoured as Munster’s Rugby Player of the Year. He was also nominated for European Player of the Year off the back of hugely impressive performances.

His composure and game management skills perfectly facilitated his physical qualities, while he was also a valuable contributor in helping others when sidelined through injury. The feeling is that he will go on to make an outstanding coach should be pursue that choice.

He said: “It has been very tough to be honest, to admit the fact that I’m retiring from rugby. But the decision is out of my hands now, it’s a medical decision, and it’s the right decision. It doesn’t make it any easier because rugby is a massive part of my life, but I do know that I gave it absolutely everything.

“It’s the reason Laura and myself moved over to Ireland, literally the other side of the world, and I know I’ve been privileged to play for 10 years in professional rugby and I’m very grateful for all the experiences that I’ve had, the friendships, and the relationships that I’ve made over my time.

“I want to thank the Munster supporters, they have been absolutely fantastic. It still amazes me the support we get at any location around the world, and I want to thank everyone for their support, the personal messages, and the support of the team.

“My wife Laura and I have been set up here in Limerick for over five years, we’ve a son, Bodhi, who just turned two, and we’ve another one on the way in a few months. We plan on being around for the coming period and once rugby resumes, I’d love to be around to go watch a game as a spectator and say my goodbyes in person.”

Munster head coach Johann van Graan said: “I saw Tyler for the first time playing for the Crusaders in Super Rugby and he caught my eye immediately. It was an absolute privilege, to not only coach him, but to learn more about him and discover what a fantastic rugby player and man he is. He has played a huge role for Munster Rugby, not only on the field but also off the field, and he will be sorely missed.

“I believe he has a very bright future ahead, and will do very well if he moves into coaching. I wish Tyler, Laura, Bodhi and their growing family the very best in life.”

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