Sunday 17 December 2017

Bleyendaal's bicep injury overshadows Reds rout

Joey Carbery is tackled by Kieran Treadwell and Ruan Pienaar. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery is tackled by Kieran Treadwell and Ruan Pienaar. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Tyler Bleyendaal is in a race to be fit for the Guinness PRO12 play-offs after injuring his bicep in Saturday's comprehensive win over Connacht.

The Munster out-half was named the province's player of the year last week and was scheduled to appear at the PRO12 awards last night but withdrew to go for scans on the injury.

Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus confirmed that the New Zealander had encountered the issue and is now a doubt for the semi-final meeting with Ospreys on Saturday week.

"He's gone for scans and stuff today, that's why he can't be here, it's serious enough that he's had to go for scans," he said, confirming the Kiwi is a doubt for the game.

Read more: Erasmus 'honoured' to win top coach

Bleyendaal endured a difficult outing in the Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Saracens and Erasmus believes the experience will stand to him in the long term.

"He has to go through some pressure times. Although he's a fairly experienced guy, he played for the Crusaders and New Zealand U20s, I think games like the Saracens game will grow him by 5-10pc, now the semi-final/final, the more we can put him through pressure situations and pressure games, we'll see how he gets better," he said.

"Technically and tactically I think he's pretty sharp, it's just when the pressure's on it's about how to handle that."

The Ospreys themselves will hope to have Alun Wyn Jones back in harness for the Thomond Park clash.

Meanwhile, England scrum-half Ben Youngs has withdrawn from the Lions tour as a result of a family illness. His place will be taken by Scotland's Greig Laidlaw.

The Leicester Tigers No 9 announced his decision on Saturday after his sister-in-law Tiffany, wife of his fellow England international brother Tom, that the cancer she has battled for three years is terminal.

Youngs toured with the Lions in 2013, but has decided to remain at home to be with his family.

"We are a very close family and, as I am sure everyone can respect, time is now precious together," Youngs said.

"The most important thing for me at this difficult time is to be able to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.

"I would like to thank Warren Gatland, the staff and the other players for their understanding in this situation. I wish them well."

Gatland sent his best wishes to the Youngs family. The Lions head coach said: "We fully understand and respect Ben's decision to stay at home. Family comes first and I know from having toured with Tom and Ben in 2013 how close they are.

"This is a difficult and important time for them and we send Ben, Tom and their family our heartfelt thoughts."

Scotland captain Laidlaw is the first replacement player to be called up for the squad having narrowly missed out to Youngs, Conor Murray and Rhys Webb for the initial travelling party.

The Lions squad gather in London today for their 'player administration day' as preparations for the tour continue.

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