Monday 17 June 2019

Bleyendaal determined to make pitch for role in Edinburgh showdown

Tyler Bleyendaal during a Munster Rugby press conference at University of Limerick. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tyler Bleyendaal during a Munster Rugby press conference at University of Limerick. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Tyler Bleyendaal is looking to the Six Nations window as the opportunity to chalk up some game-time with Munster and get his career back on track with the Reds after a horrible time on the injury front.

The Kiwi's season ended last March when he had to undergo surgery for a neck injury and by the time he returned in autumn, Joey Carbery was firmly ensconced in the No 10 shirt.

By then Bleyendaal had become Irish-qualified but his main priority is to accumulate games with Munster and see where that takes him after a move from New Zealand four seasons ago which has been constantly interrupted by a variety of injuries.

He made his delayed Munster debut in September 2015 but has only chalked up 46 appearances since then but now he is hoping for a good run.

Bleyendaal, Munster's Player of the Year in 2016-'17 and nominee for European Player of the Year as well when he made 27 appearances that season, has been hugely impressed by Carbery.

"He's been outstanding, especially through the Christmas and the European period, I think he has been leading our team, for such a young fellow he's one of the leaders in our team and it's obvious to everyone.

"Across the squad, there are battles for positions and I think Joey and I are in that situation but he's the one on the pitch at the moment.

"Twenty kicks out of 20 says it all and not a case of the media building it up.

"That's an amazing run, although there will be a day when he misses one only for him to get back up on the horse for the next one.

"That's a kicker's mindset. He probably had an off-day against Castres but the way he has responded and not just with his kicking but with his game as well and that's all come together and is helping the team massively."

Bleyendaal, who captained New Zealand to win the U-20 World Cup in 2010 in Argentina, is itching to see some action and is looking to make a big impact away to Dragons on Saturday, having only made two starts this season, with his other five appearances off the bench.

"I've done a lot of travelling for very little action, I'm always happy to be involved in any way I can be but if I'm in the team this, I will be absolutely excited."

The 28-year-old said that the win over Exeter Chiefs to set up a Champions Cup quarter-final against Edinburgh is a big boost going into the Six Nations and now the battle is on to secure a place in the squad for that clash in Murrayfield at the end of March.

"It's a really exciting time with all our internationals but now we have four games over two periods for guys to get, one, game-time they haven't been getting, and, secondly, putting their hands up and saying, 'I deserve to be in the team for the European quarter-final'.

It's our responsibility for the squad left over to prepare well and play well and some individuals will do well out of that."

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