Howlett to captain Munster
Sportal.co.nz 25 Aug 2012 Getty Images
He has captained the side on a number of occasions in the past and will lead the team in their pre-season match against London Irish at Musgrave Park on Friday.
Howlett is relishing the prospect of leading the two-time Heineken Cup champions.
"I think it's such a great honour to have been asked to captain this squad," he told Munster's official website. "It truly is one of the highlights of my career.
"I know I've got big boots to fill following Paul, Axel (Anthony Foley), Mick Galwey and Jim Williams.
"And I'm also aware of the number of leaders in this squad, people well capable of doing this job and that makes my appointment all the more worthy and humbling."
Howlett has played 94 competitive matches for Munster since making his debut against Clermont in January 2008 and is the squad's leading try scorer with 32 tries.
He takes over from O'Connell who has been squad captain since 2006/2007 and his predecessor believes Howlett is the right man to replace him.
"I think we're unbelievably fortunate to have a player of Doug's calibre to step in," he said.
"He brings a wealth of experience and an exemplary work ethic to the job that can only benefit Munster Rugby in the season ahead.
O'Connell believes his timing is right to relinquish the reins captaincy reins.
"I've been squad captain for six seasons and just felt it was time to step back and let someone else assume the role," he revealed.
"With a new coaching structure in place, I thought the timing was right."
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