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A neck injury has forced Munster Rugby’s Tyler Bleyendaal to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.
The 29 year-old out-half made the last of his 62 appearances in the red jersey against Ospreys last November but medical advice has now ended his playing career.
The New Zealander, Munster Rugby’s Player of the Year 2016-17, said of his decision:
“It has been very tough to be honest, to admit the fact that I’m retiring from rugby, 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.”
Bleyendaal, a former nominee for European Player of the Year, thanked the Munster fans for their support throughout his time in Ireland, stating:
“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.”
A former New Zealand U20s player, Bleyendaal joined Munster Rugby from the Canterbury Crusaders – where he had made 20 Super Rugby appearances – in January 2015. He made his debut for the province against Benetton Rugby in September 2015. He has played at both out-half and at first centre with the club, captaining the side 11 times, the first occasion being against Edinburgh in February 2017. He scored five tries and kicked 352 points in his 62 games in red.
During the 2016-17 season Bleyendaal experience an excellent run of form, starting 25 of his 27 appearances and winning four man-of-the-match awards. He played a key role in the side reaching both the Heineken Champions Cup and the Guinness Pro14 semi-finals.
Munster Rugby Head Coach Johann van Graan today paid tribute to the retiring Christchurch-born player:
“I saw Tyler for the first time playing for the Crusaders in Super Rugby and he caught my eye immediately. 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.”