Neck injury forces New Zealand rugby player Tyler Bleyendaal to retire early

Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to call time on his rugby career. Picture: STUFF

Gifted New Zealand rugby player Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to retire early with a neck injury.

The former Canterbury and Crusaders player, who has been with Irish heavyweights Munster since late 2015, confirmed he was hanging up his playing boots on medical advice.

“It has been very tough to admit the fact that I’m retiring from rugby. But the decision is out of my hands now, it’s a medical decision, and it’s the right decision. It doesn’t make it any easier because rugby is a massive part of my life, but I do know that I gave it absolutely everything,” the 29-year-old said on Munster’s website.

“It’s the reason Laura and myself moved over to Ireland, literally the other side of the world, and I know I’ve been privileged to play for 10 years in professional rugby. I’m very grateful for all the experiences that I’ve had, the friendships and the relationships that I’ve made over my time.”

Bleyendaal, who has had a history of neck issues, hasn’t played since November and the enforced break with rugby stalled by the coronavirus pandemic had allowed him to put some perspective on things.

“It has to end at some point and unfortunately it wasn’t on my terms, but I’ve had the ability over lockdown to plan for the future and spend a lot of time with my family at home so there have been some pros to the timing,” he said.

“The cons are that I’m away from my team-mates and the guys that I’ve spent a lot of time with. I definitely miss those guys and the in-person relationships but at the same time, there is a lot to look forward to. It might just require a bit of patience until we find out what that is and when it can happen.”

Bleyendaal said it had been a privilege to play at a club with such passion.

“I want to thank the Munster supporters. They have been absolutely fantastic and they are a massive reason why myself, and the whole team, love playing in front of our home crowd and our away supporters as well. It still amazes me the support we get at any location around the world, and I want to thank everyone for their support, the personal messages, and the support of the team.

“My wife Laura and I have been set up here in Limerick for over five years. We have a son, Bodhi, who just turned two, and we’ve another one on the way in a few months. We plan on being around for the coming period and once rugby resumes, I’d love to be around to go watch a game as a spectator and say my goodbyes in person.”

The versatile Bleyendaal, a former New Zealand under-20 player, turned out at No 10 and second-five for Munster and captained them 11 times.

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