Kirchner to join Leinster on two-year-deal
Springboks fullback will look for early release from Bulls contract
South Africa’s Zane Kirchner is tackled by Ireland's Donnacha Ryan during the autumn international series in 2010. Kirchner will join Leinster on a two-year deal. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
South African Super 15 side Vodacom Bulls have announced that fullback Zane Kirchner will join Leinster on a two-year contract this summer.
The 28-year-old, who made his Test debut against the Lions in 2009, was in talks with the Bulls on an extension to his contract, but his agent confirmed the new deal with Leinster to the club last Friday.
Kirchner is contracted with the Bulls up to October 31st of this year, but they expect a request to be put in to release him early from the deal, so he can take part in Leinster’s pre-season campaign.
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,” Janse van Rensburg said.
“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.”
Capped 24 times at international level, Leinster will look to Kirchner to fill the void left by the retirement of Isa Nacewa.
A versatile player, Kirchner played outside centre against Ireland on the Springboks northern hemisphere tour in 2010. He also replaced Bryan Habana on the wing against Wales on that trip.
Kirchner is the second major backline signing for Leinster following the acquisition of Newcastle’s New Zealand-born outhalf Jimmy Gopperth, who has was brought in following the news that Ireland international Jonathan Sexton was signing for Racing Metro.
Commenting on the move, 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."