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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 1 December 2020
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Zane Kirchner toughing out the rain to find silver linings in every cloud

Negativity has no place in Zane Kirchner’s world.

IF YOU WATCH him speak with the sound slightly turned down, you might very easily mistake Zane Kirchner’s brand of positivity for something altogether more neutral.

The South African fullback is in his third season with Leinster, but we still can’t help but smile a little whenever he steps up to answer questions with minimal volume and maximum brevity.

Zane Kirchner Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That, combined with the off-field shoulder hunch he tends to adapt when cold drops of rain hit his back, often leads conversations with Kirchner to matters meteorological.

“You never get used to the weather. Some Irish people don’t get used to the weather. If you play rugby well, get good wins, it makes up for the bad weather, definitely.”

Kirchner’s theory is certainly borne out with a look back at the low point of Leinster’s season, when the sun shone as brightly as Wasps’ back three to prep the coffin for the province’s European campaign. The subsequent nails from Bath and Toulon brought further disappointment for all in Leinster, but forward-thinking professionalism draws the eye to lessons learned, silver linings on the ominous clouds that cover an Irish province after a European exit.

“We had some good starts,” begins Kirchner’s postmortem.

“We had a very bad start against Wasps and then, in other games we played, had very good starts. We just couldn’t finish until the end. We are working on that; finishing the game strong, playing for 85 minutes and that is something we can work on.

Tangible

The Springbok adds: “We are professional rugby players and you set high standards for yourself. It’s disappointing not getting out of the group in Europe. You learn from that. You try and take whatever is positive from that and now we’re building into the league — you want to take the positives from there, gain momentum and go forward until the end of the season.”

While a six-game winning run in the Pro12 has been a tangible positive spike that has thrust Leo Cullen’s side back to within striking distance of the league’s summit, the European disappointments were also compounded by the announcement that two stand-out names would leave the province later this year.

Kirchner, who will remain in Leinster until at least the end of 2016/17 campaign, will miss Ben Te’o and Ian Madigan when they leave. But he insists that their moving on is a good sign, that the team around those individuals are doing something right.

“That question is a bit off for me,” the 31-year-old shrugs when asked if the departures might affect morale.

It shows the quality of the individuals, they have been playing well over here and other people have been interested in them. Mads maybe feels he is behind Sexton in the starting position, so I think it is good. Both of them are quality players and that is why there would be other people interested in them as well. So it’s really not a bad thing.”

By the end of an encounter with Kirchner, even gathered reporters can lose the will for cynicism and so a positive theory was put to the Springbok: at least we know the season’s best performances are still ahead of Leinster.

“Yes. And you will see it.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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