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Sunday 19 February 2017

Fly-half Bleyendaal to lead Munster's crusade to France

Tyler Bleyendaal. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Tyler Bleyendaal. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Munster be warned. Racing 92 have won all seven of their Top-14 League matches at the Stade Yves du Manoir this season.

Munster take heart.

Glasgow Warriors gutted the French champions 23-14 in round three of The Champions Cup last month.

There is general acceptance the Paris club will rest some of their more high-profile players as they turn all eyes to retaining their domestic championship.

This means where one former Crusader, Dan Carter, may be withheld, the power to take control of Pool One may be with another, Tyler Bleyendaal.

Certainly, the 26-year-old Munster out-half is coming into his own in a way he never quite did in earning 20 caps over three seasons (2012-2014) in his home town of Christchurch. At this time, Carter was being managed by Crusaders for the greater benefit of the All Blacks, in a manner similar to Ireland's care and attention for Jonathan Sexton.

It is no exaggeration to stress how Bleyendaal is about as valuable a commodity to Munster, in playing terms, as Carter is to Racing.

There is an element of game-management about his skills that are reminiscent of Racing's defence coach Ronan O'Gara.

There may come a day, not too far away, when 'project player' Bleyendaal will join Paddy Jackson and Joey Carbery in chasing Sexton's green shirt.

Meanwhile, Ulster have lost the services of Ruan Pienaar to a right knee injury amid confirmation the half-back will see a specialist this week.

The calamity of casualties continues with hooker Rob Herring (knee) and prop Rodney Ah You (knee) both ruled out for six weeks.

This comes in addition to tight-head Wiehahn Herbst's 4-6 weeks break for a torn calf muscle and loose-head Kyle McCall's 4-5 months absence due to surgery on his hamstring.

This leaves the Northern Province looking light in front row resources ahead of their PRO12 trip to The Scarlets on Friday night.

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