Zane Kirchner: Bristol Bears sign Dragons' South African full-back on loan

Dragons' Zane Kirchner
Zane Kirchner won the last of his 31 South Africa caps in September 2015

Bristol Bears have signed Dragons full-back Zane Kirchner as a short-term injury replacement for Charles Piutau.

The 34-year-old former South Africa international moves to Ashton Gate on a month-long loan.

Piutau, who is out until the end of October with a shoulder injury, is joined on the sidelines by fellow full-backs Luke Daniels and Matt Protheroe.

"It was important to add a player of Zane's ability," Bristol head coach Pat Lam said.

"Zane has played for some of the top clubs in world rugby and will slot in quickly."

Kirchner's own influence at Dragons has been curtailed by injuries, with the full-back making just 13 appearances for the Pro14 side after moving to Rodney Parade from Leinster in the summer of 2017.

Meanwhile, veteran Australian flanker George Smith avoided a suspension at an independent disciplinary hearing on Tuesday and will be free to face Gloucester on Friday.

Smith was sent off in Bristol's 44-23 loss at Saracens on 8 September for a "dangerous tackle" on Jackson Wray, but the disciplinary panel deemed that "on the balance of probabilities the initial contact did not involve any direct contact to the head".