Tuesday 18 September 2018

Bent delighted to clock up 100 appearances for Leinster

Michael Bent laughs nervously when asked if there is any special ritual that Leinster players must perform in front of the rest of the squad when they make 100 appearances for the province. (stock picture)
Michael Bent laughs nervously when asked if there is any special ritual that Leinster players must perform in front of the rest of the squad when they make 100 appearances for the province. (stock picture)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Michael Bent laughs nervously when asked if there is any special ritual that Leinster players must perform in front of the rest of the squad when they make 100 appearances for the province.

The 31-year-old will reach the impressive milestone in Edinburgh this evening - he has been known to do a fine Johnny Cash impersonation but he's hoping to avoid having repeating it tonight.

"No, not that I know of," Bent smiles.

"There have been guys who have reached other milestones and they haven't had to do anything!"

Since arriving in Dublin in 2012, Bent has arguably been under-appreciated by those outside of Leinster but inside the squad, the coaches and players know that his role becomes even more important during these international periods.

"It's taken time but I'm pretty happy to be clocking up 100 games," he reflects.

"At the start of this season it was something I targeted to achieve during the year, so I'm pretty happy.

"I signed a two-year contract when I first came over so it was pretty much just see how things go and after that signed on again and after that signed on again.

"There have been certain things I've targeted along the way, and certain things that have kept me motivated.

"But it wasn't something I necessarily thought was going to happen until more recent times.

"I guess I would have been in and out of the Irish camp so certain goals were to get back in there and get a few more caps.

"When I was coming up to 50 games for Leinster that was a motivating factor at the time and various times getting back from injury and being available for bigger games.

"These four games are going to be very important for the season overall and that's the focus for the moment."

Clash

The upcoming games are huge for fringe players as they look to force their way into Leo Cullen's plans for the Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens.

They must, however, put that to the side as they look to steady the ship without the front-line players.

Leinster have struggled in the past during these periods but Bent believes there is enough experience still in the squad to keep the show on the road.

"We're in our own groups," he explains.

"We've got the front-row that talk around the scrum and then the lineout group get together and talk about the lineout. I'm certainly trying to lead on that front."

Bent is no stranger to switching from loosehead to tighthead prop and he has been impressed with how Andrew Porter has handled the challenge.

In more recent times, Bent has solely been looked at by Leinster as a tighthead and he explained how difficult switching is.

"A lot of guys do it, it's just a bit more of a challenge," he says.

"It's easier to concentrate on one side and perfect that. If there's something that doesn't go well at the weekend, you want to be able to address that in training but if you swap over to the other side, you kind of park that and won't come back to it until the next time.

"I do think it's more of a challenge but it's certainly doable. 

"I've given him (Porter) a couple of pointers here and there but he probably got a fair bit off Rossy (Mike Ross) and he's worked with Fogs (John Fogarty) quite a lot as well.

"He's been in and out of Irish camps so working with Feeky (Greg Feek) as well, so he's had plenty of guys giving him the information."

As for the man who has a firm grip over the No 3 jersey at Leinster and Ireland, Bent knows that Tadhg Furlong is the standard-setter for tightheads in the country right now.

"I mean he's right up there (with the best in the world)," he adds.

"There are a lot of people who rate him as one of the best in the world. That's not up to me to say but I can certainly say he's a good player, he's dynamic and skilful. He's doing very well."

Irish Independent

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