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Zane Kirchner is primed to explode after a stop-start first season


With the batteries fully charged and a solid pre-season run out under his belt, Zane Kircher is raring to go. Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

With the batteries fully charged and a solid pre-season run out under his belt, Zane Kircher is raring to go. Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE


With the batteries fully charged and a solid pre-season run out under his belt, Zane Kircher is raring to go. Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Zane Kirchner is in good form. He has just experienced his first full Irish summer and he is all the better for it. A far cry from the worst Irish winter on record that he landed into.

"When I think back to our Irish sightseeing trips last season, days when we couldn't actually see what we went to visit in Kerry or the Cliff of Moher! It was great to get out and about but this summer was brilliant, completely different," he says.

"It was nice to spend days on Brittas Bay and other places in and around Dublin where the weather was great and you could really enjoy it. I was also able to get out and enjoy a few games of golf.

"We had a team outing in the Castle Golf Club and then had a great day out for the IRUPA golf day as well in Powerscourt. So yeah, very enjoyable summer."

With young daughter Amaris now one and "great fun and all over the place" the freedom to let her loose on a beach in good weather was well received by the affable South African and his wife Tasmeen. They also took the chance to visit home and to reconnect with family and friends after a long first season with Leinster.


"Tasmeen and Amaris went back in May and I joined up with them in June when I was with the South African squad for the Test matches against Wales and Scotland. It was good to be home and to catch up," he says.

Kirchner came off the bench in the 55-6 win over Scotland but after that it was time to down tools. With the batteries now fully charged and a solid pre-season run-out under his belt against Ulster, like so many of his colleagues, he is raring to go and first up it's Glasgow.

"It was good to get a proper pre-season done and in the environment, but now it is all about Glasgow. There is only so much pre-season you can take and that is why it was good to get a proper-blow out against Ulster. It was hugely beneficial to be here for all of it and to take it all in, unlike last year."

Ah yes. Last year. Due to international commitments, it was a staggered start for Kirchner at Leinster - here, then gone, then back again - but once he had a run of games under his belt, the supporters started to see flashes of his undoubted talents.

You venture that the away loss to Toulon was the moment that kick-started his season. "Yeah, it was unfortunate for Fergus (McFadden) with his injury early on in the first half but I came on and did okay. But for me it is all about the team. Team comes first and that day we didn't perform.

"But I did get a good run of games from there on in and it was great for the group to see all the hard work that we put in on the training pitch coming together on match day. Ultimately we are measured by results and I am happy that we have some silverware to show for our efforts both in the B&I Cup and the Pro12."

Twenty-three appearances and five tries - two of which came in a scintillating Pro12 final display - make for impressive reading after one season. He is happy with his first year in blue but is reluctant to outline any specific targets for the year ahead.

"I enjoyed the season. Seeing Leinster as a team and as a club being successful, for me that was my greatest joy.

"It is certainly never easy coming in to a new environment, but lots of gratitude to the guys and Leinster as a club. The boys made me feel very welcome and it was very easy to settle in here.

"For this season it's about finding your feet from the start, having the confidence up good and early and belief in the system and how we want to play. Technically as well it makes a huge difference to have that knowledge base built up.

"You can't look too far ahead, though. Glasgow is all that I am focused on at the moment. They had the best defensive record last season and were very clinical in attack. Maybe they feel that they didn't bring that to the table in the Pro12 final.

"This is a good chance for them to start their season off in a great way."

Now part of the Leinster furniture, it will be up to Zane and the rest of the players to welcome new recruits Kane Douglas and Ben Te'o into the fold, but he has seen this at first hand. Not broken. No need to fix it.

"Kane and Ben will be fine. I found last year very easy. Yes there is a transition, of course there is, especially with a young family and everything that goes with that. You also have the weather, the country, the culture and then the different styles of rugby, the new calls, the new culture within a group and a team," he says.

"But I couldn't speak highly enough of the boys and how welcome they made me feel. In those first few weeks, you need support and guidance but I couldn't speak more highly of the players and coaches.


"There will be no issues for Kane and Ben. You see even how other new players like Sean McCarthy or the new Academy boys are welcomed into the set-up.

"The culture within Leinster is a very positive one and I don't think those two will have any issues."

The other element is that Douglas is coming in to the set-up on the back of a Super Rugby win with the Waratahs and Te'o is on course for the knock out stages of the NRL, a huge plus according to Kirchner.

"They are bringing with them a winning mentality and a positive attitude. That will complement what we already have here and I know that everyone is looking forward to having them in with us. Until then, though, we just have to focus on the next game."

And what about finishing the summer on a high and a few final trips to Brittas Bay? "I don't think so! The weather seems to be turning. I'll take my chances with a few lunches indoors for ourselves and our little one!"

Wise words.

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