Munster out-half Tyler Bleyendaal
MUNSTER’S New Zealand out-half Tyler Bleyendaal is Irish qualified from the end of January 2018 – in time for the start of the next 6 Nations Championship.
Bleyendaal, who will be eligible to play for Ireland via the three-year residency rule, was part of an extended Irish squad assembled by head coach Joe Schmidt for a one-day training run-out at Carton House last week.
The out-half has seen his South African-born team mate CJ Stander become eligible to play for Ireland in recent seasons, with the number eight going on to play for the Lions this summer.
Twenty seven-year-old Bleyendaal, who captained New Zealand to U-20 Junior World Championship success in 2010, described his involvement in the extended Ireland squad gathering last week as a ‘great experience.’
However, Bleyendaal stressed that any involvement in the Ireland squad in the future would only come about should he perform well at Munster.
Munster’s Player of the Year Bleyendaal said this week: “Just being around the top guys in the country is a great experience and you can see where you really need to get to. It gives that drive to get to the next level.
“It's an opportunity, but I think it starts with Munster and how we perform. Leading the team here and us trying to be as successful as we can, that's committed a lot of guys to making that next step into the Irish camp and that's the way to do it.”
Munster kick-off their new Guinness Pro14 campaign this Friday night when Italian side Benetton Rugby visit Musgrave Park, 7.35pm.
Bleyendaal said: “I think they've (Benetton Rugby) recruited fairly well in this off-season. They've got their internationals around and we're expecting them to be a tough challenge.
“After a pre-season you expect a team to be trying new things and implement a few changes while there's pretty limited footage of them but they look to be really trying to progress and I think it's going to be a great challenge.”
Following Friday night’s clash, Munster host competition newcomers the Cheetahs at Thomond Park on Saturday, September 9, 5.15pm.