Irish new boy Bent set for belated Leinster debut against Zebre
A FULL 21 days after making his Ireland debut, Michael Bent will make his first Leinster appearance on Saturday night when he starts against Zebre.
The former Taranaki prop, who qualifies for an Irish passport through his maternal grandmother, made his international bow against South Africa and also featured off the bench in last weekend's rout of Argentina.
Astonishingly, though, when he was called into the Ireland squad none of the coaching staff had seen him play live, as he only arrived in Ireland days before joining the team at their Carton House training camp.
Bent had been expected to make his Leinster debut in their Pro12 game against Ospreys on November 4, but was withdrawn from consideration by the Ireland coaching staff after Mike Ross pulled up in training.
The 26-year-old played for Taranaki in this season's ITM Cup, and also made five Super 15 appearances for the Hurricanes earlier this year, so came with a big reputation.
Now Leinster supporters will get to make their own minds up as he is expected to be one of a number of changes Joe Schmidt makes to the team for Saturday night's game against Zebre at the RDS.
Fellow tighthead prop Ross, after starting Ireland's three games in November, is expected to be rested with a view to Leinster's upcoming Heineken Cup fixtures against Clermont Auvergne.
Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Heaslip could also be rested after their November exploits, while Sean O'Brien will get some more much-needed match practice against the Italian side.