Grim news from the Munster camp: Doug Howlett’s achilles tendon requires surgery and he will miss the rest of the season.
Howlett had continued his excellent try-scoring form from last season into this one. Going back to September 2010, he had scored 18 tries in 38 appearances for Munster.
It’s not just his try-scoring abilities that they will miss. Howlett is by a distance the most experienced winger in the league, and technically beyond reproach. Allied to a high work-rate in attack was a great degree of wisdom in defense; he was positionally astute when the opposition team had the ball, and it’s difficult to recall him ever being found out of position.
To connoisseurs of the wing position, his play had an enormous amount to recommend itself. He took great lines of support, had superb discipline in keeping depth, and rarely died with the ball. While he may have lost a step of pace from his days with the All Blacks, his finishing skills were undimmed.
Another element of his game that endeared him to Munster fans was his crunching tackling. He regularly buried his opposite man with textbook technique and a surprising amount of power for a guy who wasn’t physically an enormous specimen. This is a huge loss for Munster, already struggling with injuries to David Wallace, Felix Jones, Keith Earls and Jerry Flannery.