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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Bleyendaal to captain Munster on long-awaited injury return in South Africa

The out-half will make his first senior appearance in eight months against the Cheetahs this weekend.

TYLER BLEYENDAAL WILL make his long-awaited return from injury in Munster’s Guinness Pro14 clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday, eight months after his last senior appearance.

The Kiwi out-half will also captain the southern province in the round eight fixture at the Toyota Stadium [KO 2.45pm, eir Sport/Premier Sport], as Johann van Graan’s side search for their first away win of the campaign. 

Johann van Graan and Tyler Bleyendaal Johann van Graan and Tyler Bleyendaal in Johannesburg this morning. Source: Dom Barnardt/INPHO

Bleyendaal has been sidelined since undergoing neck surgery back in March and after featuring for the Munster A team in the Celtic Cup earlier this month, was included in van Graan’s 27-man travelling party to South Africa this week.

The 28-year-old has been dogged by neck injuries since signing for Munster in January 2015 with this being his second lengthy stint out but Bleyendaal’s return to fitness provides the province with a huge boost. 

The former Crusaders and New Zealand U20 playmaker will start against the Cheetahs this weekend, with van Graan confirming he will skipper the side on his return.

“It’s brilliant to have him back,” the head coach said at the team hotel in Johannesburg. 

“He played 30 minutes for the A team against Leinster a few weeks ago and we have been monitoring him the whole time, he is itching to go. He will start this weekend and he will also be the captain, something he has done before for Munster.

It’s great to have him back in a leadership role and it’s great to have a quality player back who has been out for a really long time.

After arriving in Joburg on Tuesday afternoon, the Munster squad had their first on-field session of the week this morning ahead of Sunday’s game.

Sammy Arnold, who travelled with Munster and not Joe Schmidt’s Ireland to Chicago, is following the return to play protocols after undergoing a HIA during the dramatic victory over Glasgow. 

On the injury front, Dan Goggin has seen a specialist after suffering a knee injury in the Heineken Champions Cup win over Gloucester and will continue his rehab with the medical staff for the ‘next number of weeks.’

Tommy O’Donnell (ankle) and Rhys Marshall (hamstring), meanwhile, are among the group of injured players who remained in Limerick and are being treated for their respective ‘medium-term’ injuries. 

Billy Holland didn’t travel to South Africa for personal reasons.

Jaco Taute (knee), Stephen Fitzgerald (foot), Liam O’Connor (knee), Conor Oliver (toe), Jack O’Donoghue (knee), Dave O’Callaghan (foot), Conor Murray (neck), James Hart (knee), Chris Farrell (knee), Ronan O’Mahony (ankle) and Calvin Nash (ankle) remain unavailable.  

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Ryan Bailey

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