Europe has developed Howlett’s drinking game

SRPA: Former All Black Doug Howlett has admitted his move to Munster has added an edge to his drinking. “At home we’d have a few quiets three, four times per season, max. In Ireland, we’re totally arseholed three times a week. It’s a numbers game.” Howlett is impressed at European player’s dedication to getting troppo. “They’re total pros, mate. It starts with a couple of cans in the carpark before training, and next thing you’re in the nightclub at 2am wearing just your club tie. I had a lot to learn.”

Howlett feels he was singled out for special attention early on, but says it’s developed him as a player. “They were sticking Vodka in my Murphy’s, making me skull for drinking with my left hand, throwing me through windows, you name it. I had the big reputation, being an All Black and jumping on that BMW, but I still had heaps to learn. It’s made me a more rounded drinker, alright.”

Howlett harbours strong views on this country’s player drain. “We’re New Zealanders – we’ve grown up with being chased, held down and forced to do a yardy in the club rooms. That’s what’s made us great, but there’s definitely room for Rugby OEs. Take Dan Carter. Can’t handle his piss. He needs a couple of years of grateful rich businessmen buying him brandy and wine skulls under his belt. He’ll become one of the greats, and he’ll bring that knowledge home.”

Howlett strongly advocates relaxing rules around overseas players. “We’re pros. We can stick away dozens of miniature Johnny Walkers on the flight, get off the plane and play Hawke’s Bay in the NPC. That experience rubs off. Don’t get me wrong, guys in Europe aren’t spewing out the same coach windows and pissing on the same bars every week and getting stale. One week it’s Guiness in Dublin, next it’s Beaujolais bar brawls in France and Glenfiddich in Edinbrugh on Sundays. Its’ all about expanding your horizons.”