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Bleyendaal ‘Can’t Wait’ To Make Munster Bow Against Grenoble

Bleyendaal ‘Can’t Wait’ To Make Munster Bow Against Grenoble

With his long-awaited Munster senior debut just days away, Tyler Bleyendaal has spoken about his decision to move to Munster and his anticipation at lining out against Grenoble at Thomond Park on Friday night (kick-off 7pm).

After signing a three-year deal with Munster, Tyler Bleyendaal sustained a neck injury while completing his ITM Cup commitments with Canterbury last September, undergoing surgery later that month.

Eventually making the move north last January, the New Zealander continued his rehabilitation under the auspices of Munster medical staff and good progress saw him win representation in the final Munster ‘A’ game of last season – against Ulster Ravens at Naas RFC.

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With his return-to-play now complete and a full pre-season under his belt, the play-maker is delighted to be making his first senior appearance on Friday.

“I can’t wait to get out there and play. All I’ve had in the last twelve months was a Munster ‘A’ game – I’ve done a lot of training and I’m looking forward to playing,” he said.

Reflecting on his one appearance to date, Bleyendaal added: “There’s obviously only so much you can get out of training so to get out there and feel full contact, getting hit from all angles, was great. I came out of it unscathed and I’ve been very confident with my body since.”

The former New Zealand Under-20 captain elaborated on the surgery he required to correct a disc lesion in his neck, stating: “I got a bone graft from my hip and time was needed for the bone to heal. I also needed to build up some strength around it so some patience was involved.

“The feeling was always positive. There had been examples of it being done successfully before. The timing wasn’t great obviously – just after announcing I was moving over. Thankfully Munster have been great in keeping faith and keeping me over here.”

On the decision to move to Europe and the question of his preferred position, the 25-year-old admitted: “Opportunity was a big thing. There were three All Black out-halves in the Crusaders when I was there. There was plenty competition and a lack of opportunity for myself, and when I had the opportunity I didn’t take it.

“Munster was obviously a very appealing side to come to with a lot of history, tradition and success. I have never been to Europe and it’s a new challenge as well so I’m pretty excited.

“I’m probably going to take a while to learn how we play here but hopefully my kicking play will be up to scratch and I can play with a bit more width and move our guys around the park and into space.

“I’ve played more at out-half but I’ve trained a lot here at inside centre so it’s more where the opportunities lie and what’s good for the team. It a long season and we’re going to have to use our squad and rotate players in positions. I’m sure I’ll be no different.”

Bleyendaal is just one of two New Zealanders in line to make his senior provincial debut in the coming weeks, with former Auckland Blues centre Francis Saili (pictured above) also joining the Munster back-line this season.

“I played against him in New Zealand and he’s been living with me for the past week – he’s a great character, he’s himself, and that’s what we like! Francis will be Francis, he’ll bring a new bit of spice to the team and he’s a great player as well which will be great for the team,” he added.

Tickets for Munster’s pre-season clash with Grenoble on Friday can be purchased online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 0818 719 300.