'Project player' Bleyendaal bound for Munster
THE IRFU's policy of recruiting high-calibre young southern hemisphere players with the intention of developing them into Ireland internationals continued yesterday with Munster signing former New Zealand U-20 captain Tyler Bleyendaal, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor.
The 23-year-old out-half-cum-centre has signed a three-year deal with the province beginning on November 1, when he will move to Ireland at the end of the ITM Cup.
Bleyendaal captained the Baby Blacks to the 2010 Junior World Cup title, won 19 Super Rugby caps for Crusaders and represented Canterbury in the ITM Cup 39 times. He joins CJ Stander and Gerhard van den Heever as project players at Munster, while another former Kiwi U-20 skipper Jake Heenan is one of a host of 'special project' players at Connacht.
Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss is the only player to win a cap through the system, but Ulster's Rob Herring and Robbie Diack and Connacht's Rodney Ah You have all been involved in recent Ireland squads, while Jared Payne is expected to feature in the World Cup.
"The decision was not an easy one as my time with Canterbury and the Crusaders has been amazing. Munster will be very similar, a proud team with a great record," said Bleyendaal.