Bleyendaal to end year-long wait to make Munster bow
Tyler Bleyendaal looks set for an early birthday present when he finally makes his debut for Munster a year after signing for the Reds.
The former New Zealand U-20 captain has put a torrid year behind him and has now fully recovered from surgery on a prolapsed disc.
Bleyendaal, who will be 25 at the end of the month, came through a game for Munster A recently and now looks set to make his debut against Dragons at Irish Independent Park on Saturday.
But Tommy O'Donnell looks set to miss the clash as Anthony Foley's men bid to get the bonus-point win which could secure a home semi-final in the Pro12.
Foley is also sweating over the availability of Simon Zebo, Felix Jones and Dave Kilcoyne, and with Bleyendaal (pictured) flying in training, it seems likely that the former Crusaders out-half or centre, who arrived in Ireland in January after surgery, will get a run on Saturday.
"He's getting there. He's working hard, he's a good professional and we've all got good time for him.
"Look, he'll be in the mix for this weekend and we need to make sure it's the right thing for him to do."
Doubts over Zebo (back spasm) and Jones (hand) might influence Foley's call in giving the versatile Bleyendaal his long-awaited bow. Prop Kilcoyne is following the return-to-play protocol after a bang to the head, but O'Donnell is unlikely to be risked after picking up a hamstring in the 23-23 draw against Ulster.
"Simon went into the game with back spasms during the week. He trained Thursday with us and got through that and he got through the warm-up. He took a big knock early on in the game and his back started to go again so we thought it best to take him off early before there was any more damage.
"Tommy's getting a scan and we'd have a small bit of concern around that so we need to get a specialist to have a look at it and that's happening either today or tomorrow.
"Dave Kilcoyne is doing his return to play protocols around his head injury and Felix Jones was in a sling but trained fully today. He's fine. It's his hand.
"I wouldn't say we'd be seeing Tommy this weekend," added Foley, who said none of the others were ruled out at this stage. But the Munster coach said there was no question of holding players back for the semi-final the following week.
"We're not resting anyone this weekend. It will be who's good to go is good to go. I think it's important that we approach the game like that and we go from a mindset that we have massive respect for Dragons.
"They're well coached, they had us at one stage at Rodney Parade, 9-7 up at half-time and we understand the physical battle that's going to be out there on Saturday and we need to prepare for that."
Foley said they had parked the draw against Ulster when victory was snatched with the concession of seven points in the final play of the game.
"It's definitely two points lost. It's something that we've spoken about in review and hopefully if we get into that situation again we'll see it home," he said