Bulls expect Leinster request for early release of new-signing Kirchner

The South African fullback hopes to get an early exit from his contract in October

Zane Kirchner in action for South Africa against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium last year. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho

Zane Kirchner in action for South Africa against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium last year. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho

 

Leinster are hoping to have new signing Zane Kirchner released before his contract expires on October 31st. This would make him available for the early rounds of next season's Heineken Cup.

The newly-signed South African fullback, who plays with the Blue Bulls franchise, would probably miss the first two round of Leinster’s pool matches in the 2013-14 competition if he stayed until the end of his contract.

The Bulls management are anticipating a request for an early release from Leinster.

While the dates for this year’s European event have not yet been announced, they are expected to be similar to the 2012 schedule for rounds one and two.

This season Leinster defeated Exeter Chiefs on October 13th in round one before winning their round-two game against Scarlets on October 19th. Round three of the competition starts in December after the November Series of international matches.

The Bulls, who are third in their domestic table, will finish their league schedule in August.

The four nations Rugby Championship then kicks off on August 13th when South Africa open against Argentina. If Kirchner is selected to play in that tournament it takes him up to Saturday, October 5th when the Springboks play New Zealand.

The Blue Bulls then play in the Currie Cup, with the semi-finals scheduled for October 19th and the finals for October 26th.
High performance manager of the Bulls, 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,” said the.

“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.”


Two-year deal
Despite a five-month long effort by the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd to extend his contract past the October 31st date, Leinster yesterday confirmed a two-year deal has been agreed with Kirchner.

The 28-year-old comes in as a replacement for the highly-rated Fijian utility back, Isa Nacewa, who has decided to return to New Zealand at the end of this season.

Kirchner attended PW Botha College in his home town, George, where he played at outhalf. However, he’s regarded as the best fullback in the country by the Bulls, although, not without some caution.

“Kirchner would like to add more weapons to an already impressive arsenal of fullback play. Tactically sound, safe under the high ball and the ability to kick the ball miles, the stalwart will be conscious of calls to up his attacking game,” said the Bulls official website.

Kirchner made his Springbok debut against the British and Irish Lions in Johannesburg in 2009.

He has made 101 provincial appearances (scoring 209 points to date) and has scored 20 tries in 77 Super Rugby caps. Two of his 24 international caps have come against Ireland.

“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,” said Leinster coach Joe Schmidt.

“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.”


O’Driscoll incident
Meanwhile, Leinster are waiting to hear from the Pro 12 Independent Citing Commissioner following what appeared to be an illegal tackle on Brian O’Driscoll during their match against Zebre in Italy on Sunday. The incident went unpunished.

O’Driscoll was dump tackled by the Zebre flanker Mauro Bergamasco at the end of the first half when the Irishman did not have possession of the ball.

The Irish centre reacted angrily but neither referee Neil Patterson nor the touch judges flagged the incident.

O’Driscoll was out of the game for six months with a dislocated shoulder following a tip tackle by the All Blacks’ Keven Mealamu and Tana Umaga in 2005.

The independent citing commissioner has 50 hours from the start of the match – 4.30pm today – to cite a player.