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PRO 14    

Two Kiwis agree Irish extensions

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PRO 14    

Kiwis still in demand at Munster... unlike at French rivals Toulon

Munster have delivered good news on Wednesday to two New Zealanders on their books. While the stock of Kiwis elsewhere in Europe, in particular at Toulon where Julian Savea has been savaged by the French club’s owner, has dramatically fallen this week, there are no such recriminations at the Irish province.

Alby Mathewson only signed for the club last September as injury cover for the then injured Conor Murray. The former All Black had impressed when playing for Toulon at Thomond Park in last season’s Champions Cup quarter-finals and was snapped up on a short-term deal that has now been extended until the end of the current season. 

That is in recognition of the impact the 33-year-old is continuing to make at the club even though Murray has since returned to fitness and is now involved in Ireland’s Six Nations campaign.  

Meanwhile, Munster boss Johann van Graan would have been well within his rights to think long and hard about the value of keeping Tyler Bleyendaal on the books in Limerick. The out-out-half has endured a torrid time with injuries since arriving in Ireland for the 2014/15 season. 

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The former New Zealand under-20s World Cup winner has played just 48 times for Munster in nearly five seasons. However, now Irish qualified under World Rugby’s three-year residency rule, the club has decided to keep Bleyendaal on board by signing him to an extension through to June 2021. 

Extensions for Kiwis wasn’t the only bit of business Munster completed this week. Up-coming local tighthead Ciaran Parker is being upgraded this summer from a development to a senior contract and second row Sean O’Connor is taking up a one-year development deal after three years in the academy.

Elsewhere, teenage tighthead Keynan Knox, who was recruited from South Africa, has penned a three-year deal that includes one more season in the academy before promotion to senior status.

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Kiwis still in demand at Munster... unlike at French rivals Toulon