Former Springbok and Vodacom Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner has opened up on the learning curve that came with his move to Leinster in 2013.
Kirchner played 87 times for Leinster over four seasons between 2013 and 2017. In his first season with the Irish club, he won the Pro12. He would later play for Dragons and Bristol Bears before retiring from rugby.
During his time at the Bulls, Kirchner won two Super Rugby titles (2009 and 2010) and lifted the Currie Cup in 2009.
In an interview with the Leinster Rugby website, he opened up on his decision to leave Pretoria for Dublin and the differences he found in the two setups.
“I needed something new, a new environment, a new challenge, a new stimulus,” Kirchner said. “Back then, the European games weren’t as often televised in South Africa as they are now. Leinster was still a mystery to me.
“It was a big learning curve for me as a player and as a man. You come from a South African environment where it is all about ‘harder and more’ to Leinster where it is about, ‘less, smarter and how can we be better?’
“You are talking about systems-versus-individuals. When it comes to the environment, I started feeling a love for Leinster, how they develop their players, how they improve them.
“For example, a lot of the Leinster boys I saw beating the Bulls in the URC in September were in the Academy and sub-Academy when I was there.
“Everything Leo [Cullen] and Stuart [Lancaster] said would happen in meetings, it happened year-on-year. They had faith in the players they were building.
“The difference is in man-management and the ability to understand how to make each and every player feel important. Everyone there holds the pride of the badge to their chest. There is that brotherhood, a feeling of going the extra mile for each other.
“When Stuart came to Leinster, I enjoyed the language he spoke, the detail he brought, the clarity, how smart they are about everything they do.
“I have so much respect for those people and that environment. World-class. World-class.”
Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images