Michael Bent back on the straight and narrow

Much-maligned prop has stepped up to plate for Leinster

Leinster's Michael Bent

"Without Benty's efforts, I can guarantee you we wouldn't have finished top of the League and, if you don't finish top, you're every chance not to win The Grand Final."

That was Matt O'Connor last Thursday. Sometimes a dignified silence is all you can maintain when the world is screaming in your face.

Leinster and Ireland, lest you've forgotten, prop Michael Bent has been quietly going about his business when that's all he ever wanted in the first place.

The New Zealander was jettisoned into Dublin in the Autumn of 2012 as a Leinster signing when Mike Ross was doing the work of two men for club and country.

No sooner had Bent touched base than he was hauled off for international duty and handed two quick-fire caps off the bench against South Africa and Argentina.

He made his Leinster debut the week after Argentina against the Italian meat of Zebre, a case of putting the cart before the horse.

When Bent didn't immediately do a passable impression of Superman, the proverbial hit the fan as an example of how an Ireland jersey had been instantly devalued.

He must have felt like he had walked into the teeth of a typhoon.

Did the criticism have an effect on his confidence? "It does impact on that," he said, succinctly.

"It was pretty tough initially. I blocked a lot of it out,

"I knew that I'd come over here and to just focus on what I was doing and not worry too much about everything else that was going on around me.


"I tried to do as best as I could and, still now, it is just a matter of focusing on what I am doing and keep showing I can improve myself and I am feeling happy with what I am doing and how things are going.

"As far as the scrum goes, initially things started to not go too well and I was trying to sort something out and I was over-correcting, and then something else would slip."

The harder he tried the worse it got, the scrummaging, the treatment meted out.

"Then, there were a couple of injuries last season (neck & knee) that made it quite tough to get back into things, to build it back up.

"I have been constantly talking to the coaches and what it is they want from me and just working on those key areas and I am pretty happy with that, at the moment."

He should be. The injuries to Martin Moore, Cian Healy and Edward Byrne and suspension of Jack McGrath would have had Leinster in an even greater bind were it not for Bent.

He has already surpassed the starts he had in his first (7) and second (8) seasons when neck and knee injuries halted his progress with eleven this term and has managed to combine work on both sides of the scrum.

"The more game time you get the more confidence you build, the more footage you have to look at yourself the more you can see what potentially you need to improve on."

There must be a sense of satisfaction that he has held up his end of the contract.

"I don't really think too much about that. I know there are people that have bad opinions and there are other people who are very supportive.

"I haven't really dwelled on that sort of thing too much," he offered.

He sure has come a long way in a relatively short time from international man of mysery to club cornerstone.