Bent will retire this summer. Ryan Hiscott/INPHO
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Leinster's Michael Bent confirms retirement at end of the season

The 34-year-old tighthead won four Ireland caps after arriving in 2012.

LEINSTER PROP MICHAEL Bent has confirmed that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of this season.

The 34-year-old will return home to New Zealand with his family after nine years with Leinster, racking up 155 appearances so far as well as winning four Ireland caps.

Bent has been an important member of the Leinster squad in recent years but the province have already confirmed the addition of Samoa international Michael Alaalatoa to fill the space he vacates.

Bent played for Taranaki and the Hurricanes in his native New Zealand but qualified for Ireland through this grandmother and arrived to join Leinster in October 2012, when he was immediately called up to the national squad by Declan Kidney.

Bent made his Ireland debut against South African that November before he had a chance to feature for Leinster. His last Ireland cap came against Scotland in 2015 but Bent has been a stalwart for Leinster, featuring prominently in recent seasons whenever Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter have been away on international duty.

Bent’s first season with Leinster ended with Challenge Cup and Pro12 titles, while he has also helped the province towards a Heineken Champions Cup and six Pro12/14 titles in total.

“Firstly, I’d like to express my gratitude for the support I’ve received throughout my time with Leinster,” said Bent. “Leinster supporters are world-class.

irelandos-michael-bent Bent won four caps for Ireland.

“I’m aware that not everyone gets the opportunity to have nine years with a team, especially not one the calibre of Leinster so for that in itself, I’m incredibly grateful. I’ve been lucky enough to play alongside and against some of the greats with a team that has achieved so much.

“My career has seen its share of ups and downs and I’m grateful for it all as it has led me to where I am today both professionally and within my life outside of rugby.

“I couldn’t have done this without the support of my wife, Celyse, my children Emme and Eli, and my family. I’m looking forward to the start of our future back home in New Zealand on our family farm and hopefully I’ll be able to keep myself involved in the local rugby scene in some way.

“I owe this opportunity and the last nine years to my grandmother, Myrtle, and her incredible journey from Rathmines in Dublin to New Zealand all those years ago. I hope I have made her proud and my only wish is that she could have been there to see me play and to pull on the blue of Leinster and the green of Ireland.

“I’ll always consider Ireland my second home. It’s the birth place of my children and it holds so many memories for me and my family.

“It’s a unique season to be retiring on and I do hope before the boots are hung up for good that there might be supporters back in the stands.

“If not, it has been a privilege. Thank you.”

michael-bent Bent will return home to New Zealand. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Leinster boss Leo Cullen also paid tribute to Bent.

“We will all be sorry to say goodbye to Michael Bent, who will undoubtedly go down as one of the unsung heroes of Leinster Rugby,” said Cullen.

“Since arriving in Ireland and shortly after going on to make his Ireland debut, Michael has gone on to represent Leinster 155 times.

“With so many demands on our squad, including multiple players away on international duty, Benty has delivered rock-solid performances season after season, as well as providing much-needed leadership and guidance for the younger players.

“There is huge affection for Michael within the group and everyone will have seen what a popular figure he is when he got on stage with Fards and Dev to lift the Guinness PRO14 trophy recently.

“We would like to wish Michael, his wife Celyse and their two children Emme and Eli safe travels and the best of luck as they begin the next phase of their life back in New Zealand.”

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