12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
The former All Black has played has played 94 competitive matches for Munster since making his debut against Clermont Auvergne in January 2008 and is the current squad's leading try scorer (32).
Paul O'Connell, who has captained the side since the 06/07 season 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 thought the timing was right with the new coaching structure and I think we're unbelievably fortunate to have a player of Doug's calibre to step in.
"He brings a wealth of experience and an exemplary work ethic to the job that can only benefit Munster Rugby in the season ahead."
Munster head coach Rob Penney. "The process to select a new captain has been on-going for the past number of weeks and involved discussion with players and staff. It's never easy to replace a player of Paul O'Connell's stature but then again, as Paul said, we are indeed fortunate to be able to turn to Doug to take over the role.
"I don't think I need to expound on the qualities he brings, you people in Munster will have seen first hand his contribution over the past number of seasons. I'm just delighted to have him as squad captain. I know he'll do a first rate job."
Speaking about his appointment as only the second overseason player to captain Munster, Jim Williams was the first, Howlett said "I think it's such a great honour to have been asked to captain this squad.
" 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."