Southern Hemisphere talent is set to star for Munster
New Zealand born Tyler Bleyendaal confirmed his move from the Crusaders to Munster last summer. Many of us felt much excitement as not only had the flyhalf previously worn the famous Baby Black jersey but he had in fact captained the U20 side and picked up a nomination for Junior Player of the year that same season. Unfortunately, the 24 year old sustained an injury to his neck during the ITM Cup of 2014 which would rule him out for his first season in Ireland. Now back to full fitness, we are going to provide you with some analysis of what the Kiwi can bring to Munster Rugby.
The former Crusader had the valuable experience of playing and training alongside the likes of Dan Carter and Colin Slade in Canterbury. These two All Blacks are world class outhalves but they also strive when playing centre. Bleyendaal has grown into a much similar role and is expected to be utilized as a ‘first five-eight’ for Anthony Foley next season.
His experience with these experts was clear to see in his one and only game to date in a Munster shirt as Tyler impressed many against Ulster Ravens. Bleyendaal was light on his feet, barking orders and constantly putting his side on the attack.
After the game, Munster winger Johne Murphy was highly complimentary of the new man’s “trust” in the men outside of him while he also mentioned Tyler’s great awareness of space.
Finding out how Bleyendaal will adapt these qualities to the first team will be very interesting indeed. Come the first September evening in Thomond Park we hope to get a better idea of where he’s going to be played by Foley but the presumption would be that he will offer back up for Keatley in an almost identical fashion to JJ Hanrahan. However, if he makes a breakthrough to the starting team, I think he will have a hugely positive effect, particularly when at 12.
Denis Hurley had an exceptional season as an inside centre for Munster and should be credited for his contribution. However, Bleyendaal would bring another dimension. The Christchurch kicker is very useful for supplying quick, flat ball for backs with pace. Therefore, if paired with his fellow New Zealander Francis Saili or Keith Earls, Munster could be creating more line breaks than ever. He will be a creative spark for everyone around him and he’s capable of a clean break or two himself:
Ian Keatley has been the nailed on outhalf for the entirety of Anthony Foley’s reign. The Blackrock student has showed what he is capable of on occasion but his downfall has always been his inconsistency and his lack of ‘bite’.
Bleyendaal is a very similar player to Keatley as he posses much natural ability. However, on the negative side, he has also been identified as a young man with poor consistency with the boot as shown in the video below.
In this game V Chiefs in 2013, Tyler has probably the worst kicking performance of his career as he misses five consecutive kicks, to entertain a cruel Youtube audience and of course the opposition. Although the video is frightening, this is no reason to write off the lad as you have to recall such bad days at the office for other tens including Ian Keatley and even Ronan O’Gara. Bleyendaal is well able to kick on his day but this sort of shocker has occurred now and again to disappoint Kiwi crowds.
Away from the tee however, Bleyendaal is a leader and a character on the pitch that Munster needed ever so badly last season. Upon his arrival at the province, squad members such as Conor Murray were taken aback by his input into meetings and training sessions. One day the New Zealander even had the courage to start a scuffle with the Limerick scrumhalf.
This egoistic approach can be seen whenever Tyler takes to the pitch and once he gets into his swagger he allows himself to take full charge of games, as he has done ever so often in the ITM Cup. Hopefully he can carry these traits and more over to Munster next season.
Prediction: Bleyendaal will initially impress in the Pro 12 but will fail to reach the heights of Champions Cup rugby when he gets the opportunity.
Admin Ronan, Munster Haka