Ireland’s newest recruit to the front row says he is ‘stoked’ to be playing for his adopted country and that he is proud to carry an Irish passport.
In an interview in today’s Irish Independent Michael Bent revealed that he jumped at the opportunity to play for Ireland when he was invited to.
The former Taranaki prop admitted that he was aware about the disquiet among the rugby community at the haste of his elevation to the national squad but that it hasn’t impacted on him.
“I know there were a few mixed opinions out there and I respect that. People are entitled to have their own opinion.
“But for me, I was coming into the team. I was asked if I wanted to be part of it, and having Irish heritage which I’m very proud of, it was certainly something I was never going to turn down,” he said.
Bent added that the reaction from the general public to his debut against the Springboks less than a week after arriving in the country has been warm.
“I was absolutely stoked to be a part of it and I didn’t really read too much about what was going around in the media. I’ve been out and about a wee bit and anyone I’ve bumped into in public, and had a chat to, they’ve all been really positive and made me feel welcome. So I’ve felt really good about being a part of it.”
The reception from his new team mates was similarly positive after his first training session in Carton House. He passed the ritual musical initiation when his rendition of Danny Boy earned the squad’s approval.
Bent’s sister Kimberley already lives in Dublin, working as an estate agent in Rathmines for the last five years. He admitted to feeling nervous in the moments before he was introduced in the second half.
“Well, there were a lot of nerves,” he replies when asked about an extraordinary day in his career. It was obviously a very big moment. Building up to the game I tried to go through the process, but I was a lot more nervous than I would have been for other matches. Being out there in front of all those people and being part of the team and with the national anthem and everything, it was a really enjoyable moment and something I am never going to forget.”
Now all he needs to do is to get Richardt Strauss to teach him the words to the anthem and his transition is complete.