Munster have confirmed that Tyler Bleyendaal will retire from professional rugby with immediate effect. Due to a neck injury, the out-half from New Zealand last lined out for the province against Ospreys in November 2019 and has been advised to retire from professional rugby on medical grounds.
Speaking to munsterrugby.ie, Bleyendaal said: “It has been very tough 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.
“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 ten years in professional rugby. 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 have been some pros to the timing.
“The cons are that I’m away from my team-mates 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 is 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 have 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.”
Bleyendaal, who turns 30 at the end of May, made 62 appearances after making his Munster debut against Benetton in September 2015. Primarily playing out-half, he also lined out at first centre, captained the side on eleven occasions, scored five tries and kicked 352 points.
A former New Zealand U20s player, Bleyendaal joined the province from the Canterbury Crusaders in late January 2015. It was during the 2016/17 season that supporters saw the full extent of his capabilities as he started in 25 of his 27 appearances, picked up four man-of-the-match awards and was instrumental in guiding the province to the Champions Cup and PRO12 semi-finals.
Speaking about Bleyendaal, current coach Johann van Graan said: “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, not only on the field but also off the field. He will be sorely missed.”
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