Munster have confirmed that Kiwi first-five eighth Tyler Bleyendaal will retire from professional rugby with immediate effect, due to a neck injury.
The 29-year-old last lined out for the province against Ospreys in November 2019 and has been advised to retire from professional rugby on medical grounds.
Bleyendaal made 62 appearances after making his Munster debut against Benetton in September 2015. Primarily playing first-five, he also lined out at second-five, captained the side on eleven occasions, scored five tries and kicked 352 points.
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A former New Zealand U20s player, Bleyendaal joined the province from the Crusaders in late January 2015. It was during the 2016/17 season that supporters saw the full extent of his capabilities as he started in 25 of his 27 appearances, picked up four man-of-the-match awards and was instrumental in guiding the province to the Champions Cup and PRO12 semifinals.
Speaking to munsterrugby.ie, Bleyendaal said: "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.
"It's the reason my wife Laura and myself moved over to Ireland, literally the other side of the world, and I know I've been privileged to play for ten 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.
"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.
"The cons are that I'm away from my teammates 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."
Speaking about Bleyendaal, current coach Johann van Graan said: "I saw Tyler for the first time playing for the Crusaders in Super Rugby and he caught my eye immediately. It was an absolute privilege to not only coach him but to learn more about him and discover what a fantastic rugby player and man he is. He has played a huge role for Munster, not only on the field but also off the field. He will be sorely missed."