Tyler Bleyendaal is a vital member of the Munster squad, according to head coach Johann van Graan who did not hesitate when it came to offering him a new contract.
Bleyendaal has had to deal with a succession of neck injuries during his time with the province, restricting him to just 52 appearances in four seasons, and there was some surprise when he was offered him a new two-year contract, which will keep him at the province until at least 2021.
During his time on the sidelines, the New Zealander will act as a water carrier and will let his voice be heard in the dressing room, offering valuable advice to his team-mates in the build-up to games.
Having underlined his importance to the team when he was introduced for Joey Carbery in the 35th minute of the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final win over Edinburgh, Bleyendaal is almost certain to get the nod for this weekend's semi-final clash against Saracens and van Graan is in no doubt that he will be an able replacement for Carbery.
“His composure and his calmness impressed me straight away and Tyler is a very consistent guy, whether injured or not, he gives the same amount of input every week," van Graan is quoted as saying in the Irish Examiner.
“He sits in on every meeting and he is just one of those guys in the team that is a real energy giver. He doesn’t say that much, but what he says has got some real value and he is a massive influence at Munster.
“There was a lot of questions asked as to why I re-signed him and it is specifically for weeks like this. He is a great man, a very good rugby player, he understands the game of rugby and I think we are very lucky to have him.”
Van Graan added: “I have never had a neck injury, but to go through what he has gone through, I don’t think everyone understands how tough it really is and it takes time.
“He fought his way back in his own quiet way, from running on the sidelines to start making contact, I remember when he started hitting hit shields with JP (Ferreira, defence coach) and our S&C team to where now he makes a lot of huge contributions.
"Look at the amount of tackles that he made in that (final) five minutes that we defended in the Edinburgh game. It’s brilliant to have him."
Munster play Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday, 20 April live on BT Sport on the eir sport pack [kick-off 3pm]. Subscribe here.
Image: Inpho Photography