Munster have announced the signing of promising 23-year-old New Zealander Tyler Bleyendaal as they look to strengthen their squad for next season. However, don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of the young star, we’re here to enlighten you. Here is your Pundit Arena guide to Tyler Bleyendaal.
1. Tyler Bleyendaal was born in Christchurch in 1990 and will celebrate his 24th birthday on the 31st of this month.
2. The 23-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the Irish province and has been earmarked by the IRFU as a possible ‘project player’, i.e. one that is being groomed to play for the Irish national side.
3. Bleyendaal can play as both an out-half and a centre, and captained the victorious All Blacks U20 in the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship.
4. His performance in the 62-17 final win over Australia was superb, scoring 28 points including a try and leaving the game early. The Australian side included players such as Brumbies stars Matt Toomua and Nic White.
5. Bleyendaal starred in the tournament and was nominated for IRB Junior Player of the Year, alongside Julian Savea.
6. He has made 19 Super Rugby appearances for Christchurch-based side Crusaders and is a past pupil of Christchurch Boys’ High School, the same school that Dan Carter attended.
7. He can take a hit, such as this one from Jerome Kaino. Well, kind of. Ouch.
8. Bleyendaal will not join up with his Munster teammates until November 1st, as he is representing Canterbury in the ITM Cup, also known as the National Provincial Championship.
9. The New Zealander is looking forward to joining up with his new side, albeit with a heavy heart.
“The decision was not an easy one as my time with Canterbury and the Crusaders has been amazing, being involved with quality people every day has made the place special. From the research I have done I am sure that Munster will be very similar, a proud team with a great record.”
10. Munster Rugby CEO Garrett Fitzgerald was delighted with the signing and has high hopes for Bleyendaal.
“We are very fortunate to recruit the services of a talented young player such as Tyler Bleyendaal. We believe Tyler can play an important role in the future of Munster, and will further strengthen our squad. In his roles at 10 and 12 he has been a key decision maker with an intelligent understanding of the game, and will provide us with an exciting option in midfield.”
11. Bleyendaal is a confident swimmer and his skin tone is as pasty as any Irish player.
12. Sadly, it’s not all positives. Bleyendaal missed five consecutive penalties for Crusaders in their clash with the Chiefs in February.
Richard Barrett, Pundit Arena.