Rugby | Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal forced to retire

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Munster out-half Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to retire from rugby with immediate effect due to a neck injury.

Bleyendaal, who last represented the province against Ospreys in November, has been advised to retire on medical grounds.

The 29-year-old New Zealander joined Munster from Canterbury Crusaders in 2015, and went on to make 62 appearances for the Irish province.

Bleyendaal scored 377 points for Munster, and captained the team 11 times.

He was named as the province’s player of the year in the 2016/17 season, with his stellar performances also earning him a European Player of the Year nomination.

“It has been very tough to be honest, to admit the fact that I’m retiring from rugby,” he told Munsterrugby.ie.

“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 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.”

Former New Zealand U20 star Bleyendaal was tipped to eventually represent Ireland when he made the move to Munster in January 2015, but was hindered my consistent injuries, and had surgery in December 2018.

An international call-up remained elusive, despite Bleyendaal qualifying for Ireland selection in 2018 under the three-year residency rule.

“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,” he continued.

“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, 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.

“My wife 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 go watch a game as a spectator and say my goodbyes in person.”