All Black, All Munster, All Time Greatest
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It was revealed yesterday that former All Black and Munster winger Doug Howlett is to retire with immediate effect due to a long standing shoulder injury. With an outstanding 49 tries in 62 tests, Howlett is currently the 5th-highest try scorer in Rugby Union history and 1st on the all time highest try scorers for the All Blacks. RugbyLAD takes a look back at arguably one of the greatest wingers the game has ever seen.
Howlett made his first-class debut at the age of 18 for Auckland in the NPC. He has played with 3 Super Rugby teams: the Highlanders, the Hurricanes and the Blues. It was at hometown club the Blues he set established himself as one of the finest back players in the world.
Doug debuted for the All Blacks on 16 June 2000. He scored on average 4 points per game (155 from his first 38). He was also a first choice winger in the 2003 World Cup.
Howlett has scored 49 tries for the All Blacks, a team record. His hat-trick against Italy on 8 September 2007, at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, brought him level with the record of Christian Cullen, the All Blacks’ previous leading try scorer and then his try in the 15th minute against Scotland on 23 September gave him the record.
As with many All Black players, Howlett was courted by Northern Hemisphere clubs looking for a star signing in the aftermath of the Rugby World Cup. On 30 August 2007 Howlett signed for Munster, following in the footsteps of an other All Black great, Christian Cullen.
He made his debut for Munster in the Heineken Cup against Clermont Auvergne, notably starting the movement for Lifeimi Mafi’s try. His second match came against London Wasps where he notably dived to save the ball in the build up to Denis Leamy’s try. He scored his first Munster try against Ulster on 22 March 2008.
On 24 May 2008, Howlett was part of the Munster team that beat Toulouse 16–13 to win the 2008 Heineken European Cup. Howlett had won his first cup with Munster only five and a half months into his career in the Northern Hemisphere. Howlett himself scored a try in the final only for it to be disallowed due to a forward pass from Rua Tipoki.
Howlett joins Rod Kafer and Brad Thorn to have won the major rugby tournaments in the Southern and Northern hemisphere, the Super 14 and Heineken Cup. He enjoyed his success with the Auckland Blues in the 2003 Super 12 and Munster in 2008. With Munster winning the Magners League title for the 08–09 season, Howlett now holds both a Heineken Cup and Magners League title.
Munster will no doubt miss Howlett who was not only the club captain, but arguably their most dangerous playmaker. It remains to be seen if Munster will replace Howlett. With Wian Du Preez leaving also it means Munster have two spots in their squad now for foreign players. Whoever comes in, if any has big shoes to fill. It’s not often players like Doug Howlett come around…
How good was Dougie Howlett? Watch this and you’ll see!