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'It's a medical decision, and it's the right decision' - Munster's Tyler Bleyendaal forced to retire from rugby

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Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster during a Munster Rugby Squad Training session at University of Limerick. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster during a Munster Rugby Squad Training session at University of Limerick. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster during a Munster Rugby Squad Training session at University of Limerick. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Munster out-half Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to retire from rugby.

The New Zealander has been plagued by neck problems since before he arrived in Ireland in 2015.

The former Crusader was tipped to play for Ireland when Munster confirmed they’d secured his services, but his arrival was delayed when he required surgery on the injury.

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 holding him back from unleashing his true potential.

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.

"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 untilwe find out what that is, and when it can happen.

"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.

"It still amazes me the support we get at any location around the world, and I want to thank everyone for their support, the personal messages, and the support of the team.

"Laura and I have been set up here in Limerick for over five years, we’ve a son, Bodhi, who just turned two, and we’ve another one on the way in a few months. We plan on being around for the coming period and once rugby resumes, I’d love to be around to gowatch a game as a spectator and say my goodbyes in person."

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.

He coached Garryowen in the Energia All Ireland League last season and the Munster coach believes he has what it takes to make it in that field.

"I saw Tyler for the first time playing for the Crusaders in Super Rugby and he caught my eye immediately," van Graan said.

"It was an absolute privilege to not only coach him but to learn more about him and discover what a fantastic rugby player and man he is. He has played a huge role for Munster Rugby, not only on the field but also off the field, and he will be sorely missed.

"It was a pleasure to coach him, and I believe he has a very bright future ahead, and will do very well if he moves into coaching. I wish Tyler, Laura, Bodhi and their growing family the very best in life."

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.

Online Editors