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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 8 May 2021

'It never crossed my mind to stop' - Bleyendaal fit and eager to fire for Munster

The 26-year-old New Zealander is enjoying linking up with Conor Murray.

MUNSTER OUT-HALF Tyler Bleyendaal says quitting was never an option as he prepares for his Champions Cup debut against Racing 92.

Munster clash with the Top14 champions at Stade Yves-du-Manoir tomorrow [KO 3.15 Irish time, Sky Sports 3] and with former Crusaders teammate, Dan Carter, missing Bleyendaal will be centre stage.

Tyler Bleyendaal Bleyendaal appears to be clear of his injury problems. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The 26-year-old Christchurch native has made ten appearances for Munster since he signed in 2014 but he has never played Champions Cup rugby.

He picked up a long-term neck injury playing ITM Cup for Canterbury before he arrived in the province, after he had signed a three-year deal.

Bleyendaal only played five games last term before a quad injury disrupted his progress but now he is fit and ready for a crunch game in Paris.

Munster coach Rassie Erasmus has made just one change to his side with Ireland international Keith Earls missing out through concussion, and Jaco Taute taking his place.

The Springbok also makes his first start in Europe, as does Darren Sweetnam, and Bleyendaal is thrilled to be out there.

“It’s great because it’s been a long process. I have been here across three different seasons but haven’t played many games,” said Bleyendaal.

“To string a few together and be involved from week to week and be on the field and execute what we are trying to play, it has been great.

“You feel a part of it, when you are training you are the field with the guys, but when you play you are in battle and it means a lot.

Tyler Bleyendaal The 26-year-old previously played for the Crusaders. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“It never crossed my mind to stop. I was always trying to get healthy and get playing because that is what I came here to do. I came here for a new challenge. Everyone has been so supportive and the medical team has been great to try and get me back as best as possible.

“And I am really excited for this season, to be back and starting and in the thick of it.”

Munster continue with the same front row and loosehead Dave Kilcoyne has been passed fit to play after he left the field concussed in the Leinster defeat.

Ireland back row and Munster captain Peter O’Mahony will play his first European game for Munster since January 2015 in Paris, and his combination with Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander will be crucial.

But the link play between Conor Murray and Bleyendaal will once again be the foundation of Munster’s attack.

The two-time European champions have finished third and failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions Cup in the last two seasons, and the half-back pairing must click.

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“It’s been great playing with Conor. It wasn’t smooth straight off but he is great and we are learning each other’s games. He is a great player and he is world-class. I am enjoying it and we are building nicely. He does compliment my game well.

“I know from watching him play with Ireland, what he plays like. But from being out on the field and us making decisions around the paddock in the heat of the moment, it’s going great.”

Racing 92:

15. Brice Dulin
14. Joe Rokocoko
13. Anthony Tuitavake
12. Henry Chavancy
11. Juan Imhoff
10. Johannes Goosen
9. Maxime Machenaud (captain)

1. Eddy Ben Arous
2. Camille Chat
3. Ben Tameifuna
4. Leone Nakarawa
5. Manuel Carizza
6. Wenceslas Lauret
7. Yannick Nyanga
8. Chris Masoe


16. Virgile Lacombe
17. Viliamu Afatia
18. Cedate Gomes Sa
19. Francois Van Der Merwe
20. Thibault Dubarry
21. James Hart
22. Remi Tales
23. Albert Vulivuli


15. Simon Zebo
14. Darren Sweetnam
13. Jaco Taute
12. Rory Scannell
11. Ronan O’Mahony
10. Tyler Bleyendaal
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. CJ Stander


16. Duncan Casey
17. Brian Scott
18. Stephen Archer
19. Robin Copeland
20. Jack O’Donoghue
21. Duncan Williams
22. Ian Keatley
23. Dan Goggin

Referee: Wayne Barnes [RFU].

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About the author:

Daragh Small

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