'He wanted to stand in the crowd to get to know the people': Fitzgerald on Munster's best ever signing

'He wanted to stand in the crowd to get to know the people': Fitzgerald on Munster's best ever signing

Garrett Fitzgerald says Doug Howlett was the best signing he made during his 20 years as Munster CEO.

Fitzgerald, who retired from the role last summer, says Howlett's personality shone through as the key characteristic which made him such a success.

New Zealand's record tryscorer, Howlett went on to win a Heineken Cup and captain Munster, before becoming the province's Head of Commercial and Marketing until stepping away from the role this autumn.

Garrett Fitzgerald and Doug Howlett
Garrett Fitzgerald and Doug Howlett

Fitzgerald says he recruited Howlett "because of the person, because of his ability, but more so than anything, because of him as a person".

"We had tried to recruit him earlier and we'd nearly given up on it... he wasn't coming," said Fitzgerald, speaking on an exclusive Examiner Sport podcast.

The making of Munster: Garrett Fitzgerald Interview Part 1

"That was the year they [New Zealand] had lost the World Cup, where they were beaten in Cardiff.

"I'd actually gone on holidays to the States, myself and my family, and I was sitting in a hotel room in Boston. I got a phone call from a fella to say that's on.

"That's how it started and it was all done from Boston on a mobile phone in the space of two days.

But there wasn't any question, we knew that's what we wanted. We knew about the individual, the recommendations, the person. What made Doug was the person.

"I know he'd finishing ability but he was the best tryscorer and the best finisher because, as a person, he was highly intelligent, keen to learn, did everything you wanted him to do.

'He wanted to stand in the crowd to get to know the people': Fitzgerald on Munster's best ever signing

"I always remember, his most important thing is in one of the first matches, he just wanted to stand in the crowd to get the feel of what it was like to play and get to know the people.

"He was good at all of that and that's why people bought into him as well. He was just a capable individual, a highly ambitious guy, who always wanted to do the best."

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