Ross: Bent has 'every right' to play for Ireland
Ireland and Leinster tighthead prop Mike Ross has backed the decision to draft unknown front rower Michael Bent into the Irish squad for Saturday’s meeting with South Africa.
Ross believes Bent, who qualifies to play for Ireland through his maternal grandmother, is entitled to run out for Ireland despite not yet making an appearance for Leinster since arriving in Ireland two weeks ago.
"I think he has every right to be here and if he plays well nobody will be saying a word about him," Ross remarked.
"There are other Irish players who have played for Ireland without playing for an Irish province.
“You look at Kevin Maggs who was playing for Bristol and Geordan Murphy spent most of his time at Leicester.”
The arrival of Bent means Ross faces fresh competition for both the Leinster and Irish number 3 jerseys.
But the Cork born tighthead doesn’t seem fazed by the situation, claiming that Bent is proving himself worthy of inclusion in Declan Kidney’s squad.
"If he is doing well against the top two or three looseheads in Ireland, you have to think he will be well able for the international stage.
"The fact is he is probably one of the guys out there who is match fit at the moment and has a good season at Taranaki.”
The autumn international series will have a bearing on Ireland’s IRB World Rankings which in turn will determine the team’s seeding ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool allocation draw in London on Monday, December 3.
Kidney’s charges currently lie 7th on the rankings, rendering them second seeds. But if they slip out of the top 8 on the rankings over the autumn series they will drop to third seeds leaving them in a World Cup Pool with two higher ranking teams.
Ross knows the importance of avoiding the big rugby nations in the pools stages and insists the squad are determined to protect their ranking.
"You certainly don't want to end up in a pool with two other heavyweights. It makes it that much tougher to qualify for a World Cup quarter-final," said Ross.
"It is very important that we do well in this Series, especially against Argentina. We don't want to slip down, we want to do well.”
Ireland have struggled to establish the Aviva Stadium as a formidable fortress for visiting nations, losing three games in a row there last season.
But that trend came to an end with victories over Italy and Scotland in their last two outings in Dublin and Ross believes it is important to establish consistency in their home ground.
"We have a home record at the Aviva to look at as well. It hasn't been where it's needed to be in the last couple of seasons.
“It's a big challenge for us to step up to improve that."