‘Hopefully he can get on the field pretty soon‘ – van Graan reveals ‘fresh injury‘ to Tyler Bleyendaal

Munster coach Johann van Graan has said that Tyler Bleyendaal’s future after rugby is more important than anything else after the Kiwi’s latest injury set-back.

The South African coach confirmed the out-half’s neck problem is a “fresh injury” and not connected to an injury which threatened to end his career a few years ago.

However, he stressed that the province will take every precaution with the player, despite the fact that they are already under pressure in that position following Joey Carbery’s injury-plagued time with Ireland.

“Tyler had some stiffness two weeks ago and after further investigation there is a new injury but with his history we will treat it conservatively and give him all the time he needs,” says van Graan of the player who was signed by the late Anthony Foley, only to miss an entire season with injury.

“The most important thing is Tyler himself as a man after rugby and hopefully he can get on the field pretty soon.

“Joey has started a bit of running but he hasn’t trained with the team yet. The ankle is improving but we’ll take it by the week and hopefully by the end of the month, we’ll have him back.”

Dave Kilcoyne (calf) may return before the end of the month but the man who starred in his absence, Jeremy Loughman (ankle), may be absent until the New Year although he will avoid surgery.

“Jeremy will not have surgery so in that sense he has had a good week but it will be a few weeks yet for him.

“Dave Kilcoyne is itching to get running as he hasn’t been involved since the World Cup but it is a bit off for both players.”

Van Graan is bracing himself for a defining week in his coaching career as he knows a defeat at home to Saracens in Limerick this weekend could fatally damage his side’s last eight prospects.

The reigning European champions are under pressure to focus on domestic fare after their hefty punishment from English league authorities and Mark McCall may choose not to send a full squad to Limerick.

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However, van Graan says that the strength of that collective will ensure his side don’t under-estimate the challenge.

“I enjoy the pressure, it’s why you’re in the game for weeks like this,” said the South African. “It’s a different challenge every week.

“It’s really like test match rugby, like the series games I used to have with the national teams so I’m really enjoying it.

“Every area is a key area for Saracens. Seventeen of their players went to a World Cup, nine were involved in a World Cup final a few weeks ago.

“Saracens bring 23 players who have physicality. Last season they brought on Vincent Koch, a World Cup winner, Will Skelton and Schalk Burger.

“There is a lot of continuity, lineout threats from Maro Itoje, George Kruis. Ball-carriers and scrum. They have a good kicking game of nine and ten.

“They really suffocate you and force mistakes. They are really good straight after half-time. They were 12-9 ahead last season but kept the ball for so many phases, 21 or 22, after the restart and scored a try.

“They’ve built an impressive squad with a great coaching squad and that’s why they’re European champions.

“The fans are always brilliant whether we are in Cork or Thomond Park. The crowd were incredible the last day with a full house. We’ll have extra setting this weekend and it will be incredible again.

“If you draw up a bucket list of things to do in the world of sport, being in Thomond for a European match would definitely be on the list. And it’s a huge challenge against the European champions.

“It doesn’t matter which one is first at home, we’ve had it at like this the last few years. Both teams want to win wherever the game is.”

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