Leinster's Michael Hell Bent on the World Cup
Versatility could yet be prop's trump card
Michael BENT could be Ireland's international man of mystery.
No one knew who he was when he jetted into a green jersey almost straight off the plane from New Zealand back in November of 2012 when Ireland were at crisis point in the prop position.
The new Leinster man was in a no-win situation when then coach Declan Kidney came calling.
He was rerouted to Carton House and an environment where he was surrounded by strangers.
"The start was obviously quite a difficult situation for him," recognised Leinster and Ireland assistant coach Richie Murphy.
"He came over and he was thrown straight into a test match, really, wasn't it? But since then he has come back.
"He had a lot of knockers. A lot of people said this guy wasn't good enough.
"He worked very hard and he has probably turned the corner and has started coming back the other side.
"He was very effective for Leinster last year and that's why he ended up getting selected back into the squad."
Bent had prepared to navigate the life-changing experience of moving to Ireland where his sister Kimberley already lived and from where his grandmother had moved many moons ago.
But, he was suddenly being thrust into combat against South Africa and Argentina, albeit as a replacement.
It triggered further debate about the value placed on an international cap with the innocent Bent at the centre of the controversy.
"It was a massive opportunity for me," Bent recalled.
"The rules and regulations are the way that they are and that is the way rugby is so I didn't sit back and feel I shouldn't be there at all. I was absolutely blown away to have that opportunity and really happy to have it."
It has been so different the second time around as Bent earned his inclusion in Joe Schmidt's extended 46-man squad off the back of a corner-turning season at his province.
He played 23 times, 16 from the start, four of those in The Champions Cup in dispelling the myth that he was just a journeyman.
Bent is a man on a journey alright.
"I mean I wasn't going to say, 'it's over' until it was actually over," he stated, about the road back to international rugby.
"The last couple of seasons I've been pushing hard and really trying to improve my skills and improve all the aspects on the rugby field.
"So I never thought it was all over. Some times were tougher than others, but I always stayed positive and kept pushing hard to get back and achieve what I'd set the goal for."
He means to add to the third cap he grasped against Wales, now that he has come to grips with the demands of being a dual purpose prop, able to operate on both sides of the scrum.
"It is what I have been pushing hard to achieve," he said.
"I obviously want to stay here as long as possible and keep playing at this level."