It's Kidney's duty to put the best team possible on the pitch for Ireland
Of the other provincial understudies, Stephen Archer, Ronan Loughney and Jamie Hagan have had insufficient exposure to front-line rugby. Of course, Kidney and co (including his scrum coach Greg Feek) could have gone across the channel for Tony Buckley or John Andress (neither of whom would have been released last week for training). But frankly, no player has been granted more opportunities to prove himself at both provincial level and Test level than Buckley.
There has been, and remains, a chronic shortage of tightheads, with Irish rugby by no means unique.
As the only Taranaki forward to play in all of their 13 first-class matches this season, which culminated in their ITM Cup semi-final defeat a fortnight ago, Bent is match-hardened, seemingly well regarded and has been monitored by Feek since he became aware of Bent’s Irish qualifications more than a year ago.
Or course it would have been preferable if Bent had some game time with Leinster, but quite why Irish rugby has to be purer than the driven snow on this issue is a moot point. Never mind Italy or England, but not even New Zealand are shy about picking Tongans, Samoans or Fijians.
Also, if any nation ought to be extending a warm and culturally inclusive embrace to the greater diaspora, then surely it ought to be a nation such as ourselves, given it has again been hit with emigration. No one is more conscious of the need to promote indigenous Irish players – and of the importance in keeping them within the Irish provincial set-up – than Kidney. It is also his duty to put the best team possible on the pitch for Ireland, and to cover every eventuality in as much as possible.
If it comes to pass that Kidney, of all people, deems that Bent is worthy of a place on the Irish bench against South Africa, then almost certainly it is the correct rugby decision. Remember Twickenham anybody?
When push comes to shove, if at some point next Saturday there is a need to replace Ross and Bent is the best equipped to do so, then ultimately that is what matters most. And the best of Irish luck to him.