By Micil Glennon

Munster have confirmed that Doug Howlett will captain the squad for the coming season.

The New Zealander takes over from Ireland lock Paul O’Connell, 32, who had indicated earlier in the week that he may step down from the role.

O’Connell, who led the team since 2006, said: “I’ve been squad captain for six seasons and just felt it was time to step back and let someone else assume the role. I think we’re unbelievably fortunate to have a player of Doug’s calibre to step in.”

Former All Black Howlett, 33, joined the province in 2008 and is the team’s leading try scorer.

He said: “It truly is one of the highlights of my career. I know I’ve got big boots to fill following Paul, Axel, 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.”

Munster begin their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign away to Edinburgh on Saturday week.