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Leinster confirm Springbok Zane Kirchner will join them next season

The versatile South African will replace Isa Nacewa in the summer.

Cian Healy tackles Zane Kirchner last November.
Cian Healy tackles Zane Kirchner last November.
Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

THE SOUTH AFRICAN Super Rugby side Bulls have confirmed that their versatile back Zane Kirchner will join Leinster next season.

The Bulls, three-time Super Rugby champions, were trying to convince the 28-year-old to sign a contract extension but the lure of Heineken Cup rugby and a chance to earn a lucrative contract in Europe swayed the Springbok’s mind.

Kirchner primarily plays at fullback but can feature on either wing and started a Test match, against Ireland, at outside centre in 2010. He should provide ample cover for the departing Isa Nacewa.

Kirchner is contracted with the Bulls, and Currie Cup side Blue Bulls, until 31 October but Leinster, who have signed him on a two-year deal, may request an early release from his commitments with the South African club.

Bulls’ High Performance Manager Xander Janse van Rensburg said, “We understand that an earlier release might be requested, but it is up to the board to approve that or not. ”

“We have been in talks with Zane and his agent since November and although it is very disappointing to lose his services, we wish him well with the new phase in his career.” He added:

From our side, with coach Frans Ludeke very involved and in regular consultation with Springbok management, we tried our best to keep the player in Pretoria, but could in the end not compete with the exchange rate and the expectations of Zane and his agent.”

Kirchner has played 24 times for South Africa since his international debut, against the British & Irish Lions, in 2009. He has scored three tries for the Springboks and has faced Ireland on three occasions, the latest being the 16-12 victory at the Aviva Stadium last November.

Last year, Kirchner knocked out Australian back Adam Ashley Cooper, another Leinster target, on his way to a try:

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Leinster coach Joe Schmidt said, “Zane Kirchner is a quality international player and we believe that he will add genuine value to the Leinster squad over the next few years.

“He’s well balanced, fast and skilful and has featured for the Springboks in their last nine internationals. At 28 he is ideally placed to contribute to team performance while also passing on his experience to some of our younger outside backs.”

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Patrick McCarry

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