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Thursday 26 April 2018

Zane: I came here to win

Springbok Kirchner settling down with Leinster and is keen to be part of success

Leinster's Zane Kirchner arrives for squad training. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Zane Kirchner arrives for squad training. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

A DAY in the life of Zane Kirchner.

Picture the scene. Saturday night in Paris, then a red-eye Sunday morning flight to Treviso, the shortest of rests and it all ends back in Dublin on Sunday night with a win. To put it in context, it's almost 2,700 kilometres from the start to the final destination.

The South African international begins the story back at the start with an exaggerated exhale of breath which breaks out into a smile as he reflected on the whirlwind events which had unfolded.

"What a crazy day," he mused in the aftermath of Leinster's away win against Benetton Treviso. "I was away with South Africa in Paris when I got word that I could be available for Leinster, because I wasn't in the international squad that weekend.

"So with a 9pm kick off, it was a long day. I spent the afternoon at the meetings and doing some sponsor meet-and-greets and by the time the game kicked off and was over, it was close to 11pm.

"Because it was the last international of the calendar season – and there were a few new caps in the squad – there was the usual dinner and then the squad had a few beers together which they deserved after such a great win.

"I don't drink myself, but it was great to spend some time with the boys before they flew off home.

"So by 3am or so I managed to get to my room, put my head down for a few hours and I was up at 5.30am to be in the airport for a 6am flight to Treviso, which left at 7am. I got into the hotel, had a bit of a rest, the pre-match meal and thankfully there wasn't too much waiting around as the game was on at 3pm.

"I was delighted to be included on the replacements bench and to come on and make a small difference to what was a great team win. A perfect end to a whirlwind day."

Just another typical day in the life of Zane Kirchner, you ask? "Not quite," he added with a shake of the head. "Not quite."

Needless to say he spent most of his day off on Monday in his new home in Ballinteer in the company of his wife Tasneem and their three-month-old daughter, Amaris, born just days before the Kirchners moved to Dublin.

Though he has three – albeit sporadic – appearances under his belt since his move from the Bulls, last weekend formally began what he hopes will be an uninterrupted and long spell for Leinster. And if early signs are anything to go by, it should be a fruitful partnership and a smart bit of business for all parties.

Finally he is looking to start his career properly and fully focus on his new team, but he does so safe in the knowledge that his family are settled and the bedding-in process is well underway.

"We first came to Ireland in August and that was important because it helped me to meet my new team-mates and get a feel for the place, the training grounds, how the coaching and medical teams operate et cetera.

"(Operations Manager) Ronan O'Donnell was really helpful in those early days and he took a lot of phone calls from me in those first few weeks as I tried to get to know the place. In fact, Leinster have been very supportive and understanding with my international commitments with South Africa.

"It has been good to get a few games under my belt and we have some big games coming up that I really want to be a part of. We're all excited about playing in the RDS against the Scarlets on Saturday night and then we're back to the Heineken Cup and two massive games against Northampton. There's an awful lot to look forward to."

Describing himself as "shy and a little introverted in new surroundings," Kirchner says that he is enjoying getting to know his teammates and he is well aware of the environment he has joined.

"I'm not going to step off the plane and start shouting and roaring at players. That's not me. I'd go about things a bit quieter and throughout my career I've always found that I learn more when I keep my head down and focus.

"Leinster are a big club; one of the biggest in world club rugby and between the coaches, the medics and the facilities, they are amongst the best I've ever seen. From the playing side of things, something that has stuck with me is that a large portion of this team has enjoyed a lot of success in recent years.

"Despite this, they're all still really keen to be even more successful and that is standing out to me, even though it's early days in my career here.

"Maybe we haven't hit top stride yet, but we're on track and that's what's important. Even though we were down a lot of bodies in Treviso last weekend, the boys showed a lot of character to grind out the result.

"You can see how much the jersey means to each of the players and I'm excited about hopefully running out in the RDS again.

"My motivation for coming here is that I want to part of something successful. And I want to play my part in that success."

Hungry and motivated, Kirchner's is a full life lived day by day.

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