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Saturday 16 December 2017

Kirchner IS AIMING TO TAME WASPS

South African star is gearing up to tackle English flyers Varndell and Wade

Zane Kirchner must have been torn between getting back from his hamstring for Leinster and a far away dream of pulling on the Springbok jersey in The Rugby Championship.

If he was, he certainly wasn't going to drop his high guard ahead of tunneling all his focus into Leinster's start to the Rugby Champions Cup against Wasps on Sunday.

"It depends what way you look on it," he said.

"I am involved here now, so 100% of my focus goes to where I am now."

There has been time to work a view of South Africa-New Zealand into his rehabilitation from a slight hamstring strain that kept him out for nearly four weeks before his return against Zebre last Saturday.

"For their success and what they have been achieving on that side, it is always good to see the progress the guys are making, especially for their win.

"It is something they have been building to for quite a while.

"They got what they wanted after three years of playing the All Blacks".

Heyneke Meyer took a degree of criticism for siding with Kirchner's abilities over the flashier skills of quicker men when he first came became national coach.

It is safe to say Kirchner enjoys the confidence of the South Africa coach.

"You never know how far you are from being a part of it or not. You just do your part on this side of the world and see what happens," added the 30 year-old.

"I am not a very emotional person. I do watch the guys. I do support my country".

Kirchner did allow himself enough air to breathe life into the argument that he could be called up to add to the 29 international caps he has worn for South Africa since making his debut in 2009.

"First of all, it would be a massive challenge playing against the guys you spend most of your days and time with.

"I would probably say I would skip this one and see what the involvement would be after that," he said with a smile.

The soft-spoken Leinster wing was signed to compensate for the loss of Isa Nacewa to retirement. It was a tall order right from the first day.

His predecessor was an iconic presence in the Leinster backfield, rarely falling below the highest standards, earning the clarion call Ieee-Sa every time he touched the ball or cut a carrier in two.

Nacewa was made for the entrance of Joe Schmidt into Leinster as he labelled the coach 'Mr Rugby' from their time together at the Auckland Blues.

For Kirchner, the move from the Blue Bulls catered for a transformation in culture, climate and style of rugby.

DOMINATORS

The Bulls have always lived up to their billing as bully-boy dominators of collision courses where percentage forward-grinding rugby allied to the thoughtful use of Morne Steyn's boot was their way forward.

It was the game Kirchner grew up on where backs became accomplished in the basics of the game, the fielding, the kicking and the minimum of mistakes.

He mastered those uncomplicated arts to win the trust of Meyer when others wanted top of the turf speedsters, pedigree sprinters.

The more cerebral rugby on offer at Leinster must have played a part in his decision to come north of the equator where he struggled to take full command of the system and patterns of play, at first.

He has been a beacon of consistency for some time now.

The start of the European Cup provides the perfect riposte for him to remind coach Meyer what he can bring to the argument against Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks and JP Pietersen to be part of what South Africa does in Europe next month.

His opinion on the Champions Cup is simply that it is "quality".

"Comparing it to Super Rugby, you get challenged by the best in the southern hemisphere. Now, you get challenged by the best in the northern hemisphere.

"At the end of the day, the challenge is always going to be massive and it's always going to be asking the most from you as an individual.

"There is no difference in terms of commitment whether it is southern or northern. It is quality rugby".

It will all begin at home to Wasps where he will probably have to counter the frightening pace of Tom Varndell though Sailosi Tagicakibau or even Christian Wade are possible direct opponents.

They say speed kills.

The English club carries the deadliest threats on the outside where Kirchner's positioning and experience will be tested.

"They definitely do have that (speed). Hopefully, I will be able to answer that question over the weekend".

Of course, Varndell and Wade are not super-human and their impact at international level has been hampered by defensive lapses that can cost Wasps almost as much as their finishing can gain them.

Kirchner has played with and against the best in the business. He has already shown at Leinster that he has been a sound acquisition with a fine all-round game based around the basics of working the sweep of the back three.

Does Heyneke still have his phone number? "I hope so".

He knows so.

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