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Van Graan hopeful long-term absentee Bleyendaal will be back for Toulon

The Kiwi has returned to limited contact training this week.

Bleyendaal has been sidelined since October.
Bleyendaal has been sidelined since October.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

AFTER FOUR MONTHS out, Tyler Bleyendaal is nearing the final stages of a delicate rehabilitation process and could provide Munster with a boost ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final at the end of March.

The Kiwi out-half has been sidelined with a troublesome neck injury since sustaining the problem during the pool stage draw with Castres last October, and had to return to a specialist last month for further assessment.

Munster had been quick to downplay the severity of the issue during his extended absence, and while he has been able to partake in some elements of squad training, there was a growing concern over the injury given he was sidelined with a similar problem three years ago.

Bleyendaal himself in December said ‘he was on the mend’ and Johann van Graan yesterday confirmed the 27-year-old is now taking some limited contact in training, but won’t be available for the resumption of the Guinness Pro14 this weekend when Munster face Zebre at Thomond Park [KO 7.35pm].

Munster continue to be cautious with Bleyendaal given the nature of the injury and his history, with Van Graan admitting ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’ but the hope is that he will make his return at some point over the forthcoming four-game block.

The southern province will then welcome Toulon to Limerick on the final weekend of March with Van Graan hopeful Bleyendaal will be back fit and available for that clash with the Top 14 giants.

Meanwhile, Dave Kilcoyne, who has recovered from the knee injury he picked up in the Champions Cup round six win over Castres, and Jack O’Donoghue have joined the Ireland squad in Carton House, while Andrew Conway and James Cronin have returned to Munster.

Conway has been ruled out of the Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday with a knee injury and will rehab at the University of Limerick, while Cronin was drafted in as cover for Kilcoyne last week.

Tommy O’Donnell (AC joint) and Jaco Taute (knee) remain long-term absentees for Munster, who face Zebre on Saturday before games against Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh during this Six Nations window.

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