Eddie O'Sullivan sings the praises of Munster's Tyler Bleyendaal but highlights potentially crucial "Achilles heel"

Ex-Ireland head coach talks attack and place kicking

BY Raf Diallo 21:10 Monday 9 January 2017, 21:10 9 Jan 2017

Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal ©INPHO/James Crombie

Eddie O'Sullivan feels Tyler Bleyendaal's skills in attacks will be crucial to Munster in the second half of the season but feels place kicking could be an "Achilles heel".

The fly half from New Zealand arrived at Munster in 2015 and has begun settling in, with the scoreboard feeling his impact.

He kicked three of four conversions as Munster beat Racing 92 in their rescheduled European Champions Cup game on Saturday and also kicked two penalties from two in Paris.

O'Sullivan has been impressed by much of what he has seen from the player of late. 

"I think in terms of moving the ball, he's as good as there is around in terms of the depth he needs to take the ball," said O'Sullivan on Off The Ball.

"When he does decide to let go, he's got brilliant hands. I mean, his pass for the try the week before to [Andrew] Conway was just sublime. It was just top drawer.

Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"So he's got phenomenal hands and he understands the key of fly half attack in terms of when to go to the line and when to step off line. That's crucial to Munster because he is pulling the strings."

But O'Sullivan also pointed out areas he can improve on and the former Ireland head coach feels it comes down to his kicking game.

"Now, his kicking game out of his hands is mediocre. It's not world class. But his Achilles heel is his place kicking. So if it's a tight game and it comes down to who's the best place kicker, then Munster could be in trouble because his place kicking cost them the game over in Leicester," he said.

"He missed a couple of very kickable ones that would have got them across the line and they'd have been in a very different place altogether now.

"So I think the guy is definitely, in terms of attack, the real deal. No question about it. He's a fantastic footballer and I've always liked that about him. He reminds me a lot of Matt Giteau's style of being able to go to the line, fix players, release guys with long and short passes really accurately. That's gold dust in terms of an attacking fly half. So I do rate the guy very highly in that department. But I just worry that they are dependent on him on knocking the ball between the sticks and I think his inconsistency there is an Achilles heel because when you get towards the business end of the season, you're not going to get too many tries and there's not too many gimmes. Really, a lot of the games are going to be swung off the ground."   

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