Michael Bent has bedded quickly into the Ireland set-up, making his Test debut as a late replacement in the 16-12 defeat to South Africa on Saturday.
The undoubted highlight of Michael Bent’s time on the Aviva Stadium pitch was winning a penalty in a scrum against his soon-to-be Leinster colleague Heinke van der Merwe.
Unfortunately, the Springboks defence held out in the next attack but what preceded it gave a glimpse of what the 26-year-old prop can offer Ireland.
Speaking about winning that penalty decision, Bent admitted: “It felt pretty good. I already felt part of the team, everyone’s been really welcoming.
“But at any stage out on the field when something goes well and you’ve got guys patting you on the back, it always feels great.
“It’s one of those moments when something goes well in the game. I was just stoked to be there.”
The former Taranaki forward will be hoping to show more of his scrummaging ability in the upcoming non-cap international against Fiji.
He admitted to being ‘a lot more nervous than I would have been for other matches’ when asked about his emotions last Saturday night, which was understandable given the column inches his switch from New Zealand had commanded.
Bent readily accepts that his immediate promotion to the Ireland bench has annoyed some people, but the proud grandson of a Rathmines woman is hugely motivated to show his worth to Irish rugby.
“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.”
Keeping the Irish scrum on an upward curve will certainly endear him to any critics and the newly-capped tighthead knows he will be judged on his scrum performance first and foremost.
“With scrummaging and all the rest of it you’ve just got to go out there and set up as I normally would and go through it the same as I normally would. Obviously I wouldn’t try and change too much.
“Scrummaging is a part of my game I put a lot of emphasis on. As a prop you’ve got to scrum first and do that well, and then you can concentrate on the other aspects of the game.
“So, it’s always something I work very hard on and try to do very well in the game.”
Bent received a ringing endorsement from Ireland assistant coach Anthony Foley who was not surprised by the prop’s promising late cameo.
“During the week, on Tuesday I think, we had a good scrummaging session on the training pitch,” explained Foley.
“From that, we’ve had no problems. He went on to the pitch and everyone had full confidence that he could do a job.
“He’s now an international player, an international tighthead and he’s obviously got the backing of everyone within the squad in terms of what he did.
“But we had already known going into the game what he was capable of doing, so it was probably not a surprise to us.”