Leinster prop Michael Bent has confirmed that he will be retiring from professional rugby at the end of the ongoing season.
New Zealand born Bent started his professional rugby career with provincial side Taranaki in 2009 and went on to join Leinster in 2012. Since then, he has gone on to play over 150 times for the club and won six domestic Pro12/14 titles along with European Challenge Cup and Champions Cup triumph in 2013 and 2018 respectively.
The 34-year-old also played four Tests for Ireland between 2012 and 2015 and was named in the Pro14 Dream Team for the 2020/21 season.
He will quit the game at the end of the 2020/21 season and will head back to New Zealand to be with his wife Celyse and children Emmerson and Eli..
"Firstly, I’d like to express my gratitude for the support I’ve received throughout my time with Leinster. Leinster supporters are world class.
“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.”
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen lavished praises on Bent and thanked him for his contribution to the club.
“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,” he said.
“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.”