Apparently All Black wing Doug Howlett appears to be on the verge of signing for Munster. However he will not be available until the latter stages of the Heineken Cup.
The 28-year-old Auckland rocket is part of New Zealand's World Cup squad. The deal is believed to be worth €1 million.
Undoubtedly the Munster back division lacks flair. A fit and eager Howlett could electrify the province. Though only 28 years old he has a lot of mileage on the clock. He has played for the All Blacks on 60 occasions. He has 93 Super 12/14 caps and 52 provincial caps. Munster may gain in the short term but is it not time for the province to produce dynamic backs of its own?
The signing of Howlett will hinder the development of indigenous backs. The huge influx of players from New Zealand and South Africa into French and English clubs has probably forced Munsters hand. Success in Heineken Cup Rugby is a financial necessity.
Indeed Irish Rugby Union has suffered from the failure of the IRFU to cultivate Sevens Rugby both domestically and Internationally. It is noticeable that countries such as New Zealand and Australia take International Sevens very seriously. In general Southern Hemisphere players are more comfortable with ball in hand than Irish players. Granted that the Leinster back division -with players such as Hickie, O'Driscoll, Darcy and Horgan- exudes class. Unfortunately this is the exception rather than the rule.
IRISH coach Eddie O’Sullivan is believed to have signed a 4 year contract with the IRFU worth €5 million. This is in advance of the World Cup. It would make more sense to negotiate with O'Sullivan after the World Cup. This generous deal will have knock on effects as players who do the hard graft will look with jaundiced eye at such generosity.
Renewal of player's contracts may be more costly than the IRFU anticipate. Player contract inflation may haunt the IRFU for a prolonged period of time.