Johann van Graan is not sugar-coating the concern within Munster about Tyler Bleyendaal’s return to the sidelines with another neck injury. The New Zealand-born fly-half has a history of serious neck injuries, the first of which delayed the former All Blacks U20 captain’s arrival in Munster from Canterbury and the Crusaders by several months until January 2015.
Bleyendaal did not make his Munster debut for another nine months and suffered a neck injury in 2017-18.
Those lay-offs along with other issues, including a quad injury in 2015-16 have restricted his Munster career to 62 appearances in almost five years and the province’s medical staff are treating the 29-year-old’s latest issue, reporting stiffness in his neck a fortnight ago, with understandable caution.
“I would lie if I said it wasn’t a worry,” head coach van Graan said of Bleyenedaal’s injury yesterday as his squad began preparations for Saturday’s visit of Saracens to Thomond Park.
It’s a new injury so it’s not the same as before. He had some stiffness two weeks ago and we kind of let it settle over the weekend, and it didn’t, and our medical team investigated further and we sent him for an opinion.
“There’s a fresh injury to his neck, we’re just going to give him all the time that he needs.
“There’s an expectation that he will return but the two of us have discussed it as well, he needs to be completely right for him to get back onto the pitch. Now, there’s a life after rugby as well and for me, that’s the most important, what happens after this, and we’re true to that way.
"He’s keen to get straight back in. Knowing Tyler, he’s gutted not to be part of this but we’ll do the best for him and give him all the time that he needs.”