September 1, 2007 / 5:51 AM / 12 years ago

New Zealand winger Howlett to join Munster

In this file photo All Black Doug Howlett shows the Tri-nations cup to the crowd after winning the international rugby match between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park in Auckland July 21, 2007. Howlett is to join Irish club Munster after this year's World Cup, the New Zealand Rugby Union said in a statement on Saturday. REUTERS/Nigel Marple

SYDNEY (Reuters) - All Blacks winger Doug Howlett is to join Irish club Munster after this year’s World Cup, the New Zealand Rugby Union said in a statement on Saturday.

The 28-year-old, who has scored 43 tries in 59 tests since making his international debut in 2000, has agreed a two-and-a-half year contract starting in January.

“I have had an amazing rugby career in New Zealand and I am grateful to every person who has contributed to that,” Howlett told the Munster Web site.

“I consider Munster a fantastic opportunity to experience a different lifestyle with my family.”

All Blacks coach Graham Henry paid tribute to Howlett.

“Doug is a quality international player who has proven his ability at the highest level,” New Zealand coach Graham Henry said.

“He is a marvellous professional and excellent role model, and although it is disappointing to see a player of his class go overseas, we will always remember the outstanding contribution he has made to New Zealand rugby.”

Howlett joins the exodus of New Zealand players to Europe, with Byron Kelleher, Chris Jack, Rico Gear, Aaron Mauger, Carl Hayman and Luke McAlister all heading overseas after the World Cup.

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