Kidney happy to hand Bent debut
November 1, 2012
Michael Bent is in line to make his Leinster and Ireland debuts in the coming weeks © Getty Images
Ireland coach Declan Kidney has said he has no problem handing new recruit Michael Bent his Ireland debut in the upcoming autumn internationals, despite the New Zealand-born prop having yet to play a match in the country.
Bent qualified for Ireland through his maternal grandmother and has signed for European champions Leinster. He is due to begin training with Declan Kidney's Ireland squad on Thursday ahead of Tests against South Africa on November 10, Fiji on November 17 and Argentina on November 24.
"It's our job to assemble the best Irish-qualified group together," Kidney said. "In fairness to Leinster, they did a lot of groundwork in finding him. With the game-time the rest of the tight-head props have around the place, he's probably one of the most qualified in terms of being match-fit."
Bent played five times for the Hurricanes in this year's Super Rugby season and then played for Taranaki in New Zealand's ITM Cup. He met his Leinster team-mates on Wednesday and is now in contention for Leinster's RaboDirect PRO12 match against the Ospreys in Swansea on Sunday.
"He will come back to Carton House (Ireland's training base) Thursday and Friday, and then a decision will be taken on whether he will have an involvement in Leinster's game on Sunday," Ireland team manager Michael Kearney said. "For us, he could play in one or two or all three games in November. It depends on what happens in the next week or two. Declan (Fitzpatrick) has just returned from injury, and we are keeping our options open."
Kidney also has the issue of who will captain the side against South Africa to deal with following the loss of Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best to injury in recent days. Paul O'Connell, who has captained Ireland and the Lions in the past, is unable to fully participate in training and lacks match-fitness this season, which means Kidney might have to look elsewhere for his skipper.
"We will assess all that now," Kidney said. "Paul (O'Connell) has his own niggles with his back. He was hoping to get a bit of pitch-time this weekend. "Captain can be an onerous position. We will let him recover first; we will look after the person first and then see what is right for the team."
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