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Bleyendaal: Decision to retire taken out of my hands

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The former Crusader was tipped to play for Ireland when Munster confirmed they’d secured his services. Photo: Sportsfile

The former Crusader was tipped to play for Ireland when Munster confirmed they’d secured his services. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

The former Crusader was tipped to play for Ireland when Munster confirmed they’d secured his services. Photo: Sportsfile

Munster out-half Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to hang up his boots at the age of 29 after five years of injury frustration. The New Zealander has struggled with neck problems since he first arrived in Ireland in 2015 and says he "gave it everything" to overcome the issue.

The former Crusader was tipped to play for Ireland when Munster confirmed they'd secured his services, but his arrival was delayed when he needed surgery.

He belatedly made his debut in September 2015 and played 62 times for the province, winning the team's player of the year award in 2016/'17 and skippering the side 11 times.

However, while he had impressive stints in the red jersey his body always seemed to be preventing him from unleashing his true potential.

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His last match came against the Ospreys in November.

"It has been very tough to be honest, to admit the fact that I'm retiring from rugby," he told Munster's website.

"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 (his wife) 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.

Ability

"It has to end at some point and unfortunately it wasn't on my terms but I've had the ability over lockdown to plan for the future and spend a lot of time with my family at home so there has been some pros to the timing.

"The cons are that I'm away from my teammates, and the guys that I've spent a lot of time with. I definitely miss those guys and the in-person relationships but at the same time there's a lot to look forward to, it might just require a bit of patience until we find out what that is.

"I want to thank the Munster supporters, they have been absolutely fantastic, and they are a massive reason why myself, and the whole team, love playing in front of our home crowd and our away supporters as well."

Bleyendaal is known as a smart thinker on the game and, while he couldn't always contribute on the pitch, head coach Johann van Graan often used him as a runner during games.

Munster are on the look-out for another assistant coach and Bleyendaal was rumoured to be under consideration for the role, but it appears his time with the province is at an end.

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