Injury opens the door for Michael Bent

Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012

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Michael Bent could be in line for a starting spot for Ireland against Fiji this weekend.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has called in Ulster prop Stephen Archer for the international as cover for Mike Ross, who started in last weekend's 16-12 loss to South Africa but remains in doubt because of injury.

Bent, the Taranaki player of the year, replaced Ross in the 70th minute to earn his first test cap and received widespread praise for his cameo performance.

If Ross was ruled out it would be logical for Bent to takeover the starting role at tighthead.

Speaking for the first time to the Taranaki Daily News since his debut, which came before he even turned out for his new club, Leinster, Bent said his transition into the Ireland camp had been seamless.

"The team has been really good to come in to. Everyone has been really welcoming and helpful when it has come to learning patterns and calls," he said.

"Building up to the [South Africa] game, the nerves were a bit worse than normal, as you can imagine, but I had worked hard to learn my role so that gave me confidence that once I got out there I would be able to do my job.

"I wasn't really sure what to expect as far as game time went but I was absolutely stoked with the time I got and enjoyed every minute of it and now I'm just looking forward to getting another chance to play."

In reaction to the criticism swirling around Irish rugby since his selection, Bent said it added to his motivation to show his worth.

"I knew there were a few mixed opinions out there and I respect that. People are entitled to have their own opinion," he said.

"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.

"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 the 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," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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