Bristol Bears have signed Dragons full-back Zane Kirchner on a month-long loan deal to replace injured ex-All Black Charles Piutau. The 34-year-old former South Africa international arrives at Ashton Gate in time to play in Friday’s Premiership clash with rivals Gloucester.
“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 spell with the 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.
He is one of the highest earners at the Welsh region and there is some talk that Dragons might be open to a longer-term arrangement.
Piutau, who is out until the end of October with a shoulder injury, is currently joined on the sidelines by fellow full-backs Luke Daniels and Matt Protheroe.
Meanwhile, George Smith avoided a suspension at an independent disciplinary hearing on Tuesday and will be free to face Gloucester on Friday.
The Australian flanker was sent off in Bristol’s 44-23 loss at Saracens on September 8 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”.