He has been enjoying a new lease of life in Ireland. He is not short of receiving criticism and as the last line of defense takes it in his stride. In a relaxed and a casual encounter Benedict Chanakira managed to talk to Zane Kirchner!
After stints at the Griquas, Blue Bulls, he is now at Leinster. His arrival in Dublin heralded a new lease of life; one year old daughter, new country, new team, culture, challenges and even a new hair style. It was almost a new life!
The first season was quite a challenge with a quarter-final loss in the Heineken Cup (now Champions Cup) but a starring role in the Pro12 final which saw him score two fantastic tries as they managed to win the competition!
We get to find out more from Zane Kirchner:
Hi, how are you Zane?
I am well thanks Benedict.
Two seasons at Leinster now, has it improved you as a player?
I think from my day at the Bulls you all saw the style of play was more of kick and chase. I think at times we play to what the coaches and management feel is the best for the team. In South Africa no one was as good as us with that way of play. It was a matter of playing to our strengths. Leinster has us expressing ourselves and playing the running game a lil more.
Of course weather, opposition and conditions could see tweaks in the game plan or strategy. The need to throw the ball around saw us ranked in the top quarter of tries scored last season. My breakdown work has managed to be one of my biggest improvements as it’s an area of great focus.
On his three stays at the Griquas, Blue Bulls and Leinster?
It was always special and you got to experience different moments at all. Dawie Theron enjoyed the expansive game and also playing on Griqua Park was nothing short of an adventure. It was a different pitch to the rest in the world.*chuckles* Moving to the Blue Bulls was a new challenge and playing against internationals, week in and week out was a challenge that I embraced. We managed to play to our strengths with the ability to use our big forwards and kicking arsenal.
We were not shy of excelling using this method. It is what suited us best. I developed my kicking quite a lot as I was not regarded as a good tactical kicker. Moving to Dublin had me joining a team that had very high credentials and a rich history. We play in different conditions and we pride ourselves in passing the ball around very well and the weather is never a factor we take too much into account. I found it easy to adapt and play my own role to help the team.
The game plan at the Bulls?
Despite it not being a public favourite it worked and we managed to be quite a successful whilst using it. We managed to put the opposition under pressure and suffocate them in their own half. The silverware also speaks for itself and we managed to be get silverware with it. I managed to adapt to the style of play and put my hand up. The team came first and everyone wants to be in the side.
While sportsman are known for taking in quite some criticism, it takes strong characters to overcome them. In the case of Zane Kirchner it was at an advanced level. He would score tries and still get bored. Mostly because he would execute the role he played in the side. How did he take all this? He smiles and makes mention of a plethora of thoughts in his mind. ” I have never been a favourite.
I take the game serious and wear every jersey with pride. It’s nothing new to get criticism, from junior school I have had to deal with it. I was never the first pick, or the stand out. I was more or less three steps behind or lacked the approval of people and it was not easy but I realised whether you make one or three mistakes a game you get people that await it or focus solely on that. I live with it and that’s how they react to me. It never made me down or deterred me in any way. I am a stronger individual because of all that. What can I say? I am still standing and proud of the journey I have travelled.
On his World Cup chances?
Well, we all waiting to see the bigger squad announcement and you will get a clear picture of where you stand as a player. The World Cup is the biggest stage for a player and it’s an honor for you to be there as a bag holder, water boy or a ball boy.
On his best match ever ?One that sticks out?
My most enjoyable season in Super Rugby was 2012! Any of those games were memorable and I will always be fond of the season.
What would you change in your career?
I would back myself more. I would definitely just change that little bit! I mean if I fail; I will fail on my own terms too, if I do!
Zane felt honored to participate in the final of the Pro12 that first season which also saw him score two tries. The tries represented the mark of a new era. A special form of christening to the fresh new adventure he had just began. It was the perfect start to his Dublin adventure. A lifelong memory! Leinster has managed to welcome the Springbok fullback and he has been helpful to their cause.
Love him or hate him he has managed to win quite a number of silverware. He is quite decorated as a player and while he may lack the attacking foray people desire from him, he remains a solid defender and manages to get the job done when asked to.