'To a badge and a fraternity that literally turned my life around' - Zane Kirchner in emotional tribute to Leinster
The expected departure of Zane Kirchner from Leinster was confirmed this morning with the Newport-Gwent Dragons his destination for next season.
The utility back, capped 30 times by the Springboks, joins the Welsh side after four seasons at the RDS.
He will be replaced in Leinster's non-Irish qualified slot by Maori All Black James Lowe.
Commenting on joining the Dragons next season, Kirchner said: "When looking at the current squad, the average age and talent within the Region; that is what got me interested! I am keen to find my feet, settle in with boys as quickly as possible, and add value to the squad where I can.
"I believe the Dragons will definitely move in the right direction!”
Speaking to Leinsterrugby.ie, Kirchner addressed the Leinster fans: "To a badge and a fraternity that literally turned my life around. A place that became home. Friends that grew closer then family.
"From me and my family we humbly thank everyone for the adventure. To the organisation, from top to bottom, thank you for allowing me to set foot in a club which I believe is the best that I've ever been.
"To the Leinster blue faithful, I hope that even for a little while I brought joy to your presence at our games. The roar and memories of the RDS is something I'll carry and treasure for the rest of my life.
"I am very grateful.”
On the change of scenery from Leinster to Gwent, he added: "New decisions and ventures aren't always easy to make, however the experience of moving to Leinster, my first move abroad, has helped and knowing a few of the other South Africans in the squad makes my decision easier.”
Dragons Head Coach Kingsley Jones commented: "I am delighted to welcome Zane to the Dragons. His experience both on and off the field will be invaluable for this young squad.
"In addition to his experience, he understands how to win having played a major part in Super Rugby, International Rugby and through helping Leinster secure the Guinness PRO12 title in 2014.
"He is a great addition to our young back line and I believe he will bring a much-needed voice in the backs to help these youngsters with their development.”
Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen took time to acknowledge the impact that the 32-year-old back has had on the club.
"Zane has played a key role in his time with Leinster. I will always remember his two tries in the PRO12 Final against Glasgow at the RDS as they paved the way for us to win the game, a game that happened to be my last ever game of rugby played," he said.
"We would like to thank Zane for the contribution that he has made to Leinster Rugby.
"We wish him and his family the very best of luck with their move to Wales and look forward to meeting him when we take on the Dragons next season. I am sure all the fans will give him a warm welcome when he returns to the RDS.”