Springboks delay Zane Kirchner’s arrival to link up with Leinster

IRB regulation invoked even though player is not in South Africa’s match-day squad

Zane Kirchner: Springboks have not named Kirchner in the match day 23 yet kept him in the expanded training panel

Zane Kirchner: Springboks have not named Kirchner in the match day 23 yet kept him in the expanded training panel


Zane Kirchner’s arrival in Leinster on a two-year contract as Isa Nacewa’s replacement could conceivably be delayed until October 7th.

That would leave only five days to integrate before the opening European Pool game away to the Ospreys.

The Springboks management have invoked IRB regulation nine to keep control of Kirchner despite excluding the fullback from their rugby championship squad for a second week running.

South Africa face Argentina in Mendoza tomorrow night without the 24 times capped 29-year-old.

“Unfortunately with it being an international window if they say ‘he is in our group’ there is nothing we can do,” said new Leinster coach Matt O’Connor yesterday. “It is just a matter of negotiating with the powers that be in South Africa and trying to come up with a solution.

“Of course, he is not involved this week but he may be the week after and there is all sorts of logistical issues around that.”

Willie Le Roux has usurped Kirchner in the Springbok pecking order but head coach Heyneke Meyer has not named another fullback in the match day 23 yet has kept Leinster’s summer recruit Kirchner in the expanded training panel.

“He’s in the 30 man squad,” O’Connor explained. “He is our player currently but because of the test window he is obliged to be with South Africa if named in that squad.”

Kirchner was signed after Nacewa decided to retire last season but also to provide wing cover following the departure of Fionn Carr to Connacht and Andrew Conway to Munster.

The Springboks final game of the four nations tournament is against New Zealand in Johannesburg on October 5th and Meyer is within his right to keep him until then. He does appear to be one injury away from a recall.

Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar is included tomorrow at scrumhalf for his 68th cap but, oddly, they have released veteran half back Fourie du Preez back to his Japanese club.

Following the premature retirement of Eoin O’Malley earlier this week and Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement next summer, another area of immediate concern for O’Connor and Leinster is outside centre.

Tonight in Ravenhill Brendan Macken wears 13 in direct opposition to Ulster’s almost naturalised Kiwi Jarred Payne (who is still only 27).

“The situation with Brian in relation to his test commitments and his age profile means we will be looking to manage his game time which sets up the perfect scenario for looking at the succession plan for the 13 shirt.

“You mentioned Brendan Macken, Fergus McFadden has played there a lot and Luke Fitzgerald back fit is probably a guy who could do that job for us as well. There is enough bodies to do it. Eoin leaves us short of a body but I think we have enough midfielders to cover it but moving Fergus or Luke leaves us short somewhere else so it is something we are looking to rectify in the short term.”

It’s unclear if Leinster will pick up another three quarter but it certainly remains an option.

On the injury front, O’Connor stated that Fitzgerald (cruciate knee ligament), Eoin Reddan (double leg fracture), Gordon D’Arcy (calf), Mike McCarthy (elbow operation) and Seán O’Brien (hand) are all expected to be available for selection by the Ospreys visit to the RDS on September 14th. Maybe even sooner in the case of Fitzgerald, Reddan and D’Arcy.

“They should be back in the next fortnight, even before Scarlets in round one and hopefully some of them will get a run out against the Saints next week,” he said.

None of the provinces international contingent are available this weekend due to preseason regulations.

Munster go into tomorrow’s friendly against Gloucester at Thomond Park without Keith Earls (shoulder), Felix Jones (who also underwent shoulder surgery this summer), James Downey (quad tear) and Luke O’Dea (wrist).

Connacht coach Pat Lam has included new recruits Craig Clarke, Jake Heenan and Fionn Carr in the squad to face Newcastle tomorrow at Kingston Park.
Ulster (v Leinster): P Nelson; R Scholes, J Payne (capt), C Farrell, M Allen; J McKinney, MHeaney; K McCall, N Annett, D Fitzpatrick, L Stevenson, N McComb, M McComish, S Doyle, N Williams. Replacements: C Black, J Murphy, B Ross, A O’Connor, D Tuohy, R Diack, R Wilson, I Porter, C Cochrane, L Marshall, D McIlwaine, R Andrew.
Leinster (v Ulster): D Hudson; D Fanning, BMacken, N Reid, A Boyle; J Gopperth, J Cooney; J O’Connell, A Dundon, M Moore, TBeirne, Q Roux, R Ruddock (capt), D Ryan, L Auva’a. Replacements: J Tracy, J McGrath, M Bent, T Furlong, B Marshall, JMurphy, D Leavy, L McGrath, CO’Shea, A Byrne, T Daly, B Dardis, T Farrell, C Marsh.
Munster: D Hurley; AConway, C Laulala , I Dineen, J Murphy; I Keatley, D Williams; J Cronin, M Sherry, J Ryan; D O’Callaghan, B Holland; CJ Stander, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements from: N Scannell, D Casey, A Cotter, S Archer, P Ryan, I Nagle, D Foley, DKenny, W Ryan, S Buckley, BO’Mahony, C Sheridan, GHurley, JJ Hanrahan, JHolland, C Bohane, M Kelleher, N Kenneally, R O’Mahony.