André Joubert says Zane Kirchner will receive an opportunity to prove his worth as a Springbok against France on Friday.
Kirchner was unfortunate to make his international debut in the third British & Irish Lions Test, where head coach Peter de Villiers experimented with a second-string side with the series already won.
The inexperienced Boks were clearly out of their depth against a weakened Lions team, as the visitors dominated the match and restored some pride with a 28-9 win.
The victory is still celebrated up north, but the biggest knock was to those Springbok players like Kirchner, who won’t have fond memories of his first Test cap.
Now the fullback will get a second opportunity in a Springbok jersey as he starts in Toulouse. Joubert believes that, with the leadership of JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana on the wings, and the experience gained from his Test debut, Kirchner will be better equipped to prove himself.
‘He can only do better from his previous Test. It wasn’t his fault, it was the selectors who picked such an inexperienced side for that match, but he has been introduced to Test rugby and hopefully it will go well for him on Friday,’ Joubert told keo.co.za.
‘The French will be a good test for him. JP and Bryan will also be a big help. They will give him confidence, make him feel comfortable and motivate him.’
Joubert noted that Kirchner would bolster the backline from an attacking perspective and his composure under the high ball was an asset.
‘Being good under the high ball will be vital against the French. You will need to be solid at the back and it will be a big contribution if he can bring the attack from behind,’ he said.
Kirchner has enjoyed a successful season with the Bulls, winning the Super 14 and Currie Cup titles. However, Joubert stressed that there is a big difference between Test and provincial rugby, and explained that Kirchner will need to adapt quickly if he wants to make the jersey his own.
‘He’s been playing behind a good Bulls team and now he finds himself playing in a quality Springbok side. He should fit in quite comfortably. There is a lot of confidence around him, so he should do well,’ said Joubert.
‘On the other hand, they are playing against a new-look French outfit, who will be really motivated playing at home. He is a newcomer in the team, so they will target him. The first quarter will be crucial [for his confidence].
‘It’s a big step from Currie Cup level to Test rugby. Friday, we will see if he’s good enough to take ownership of the jersey.’
By Gareth Duncan