Big hitting Howlett ‘having some fun’


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All Black wing Doug Howlett, in a desperate race to regain his place in the national side ahead of this year’s World Cup in France, described his big hits on Lions back Earl Rose as “just outside backs having fun”.

Howlett made sure that All Black coach Graham Henry took notice of him, while Henry’s preferred World Cup 22 are still on their conditioning programme, when he produce a sublime and balance performance of aggressive defending and skillful finishing during the Blues’ impressive 41-14 demolition of the Lions in Auckland at the weekend.

Howlett scored twice as the Blues entrenched their position at the top of the Super 14 standings – tries that first saw him move into joint second place on the all-time try-scorers list and then joined Brumbies and Wallaby star Joe Roff in first place on 57 touch downs.

However, it was not so much his try-scoring feats that had the critics raving afterwards, it was two massive hits on Rose that earned most of the plaudits.

The tackles followed a first half incident in which Howlett provoked Rose by throwing a ball at him and Rose in turn pushed his head into the All Black winger’s face.

This fired up Howlett, who produced two of the most impressive hits of the season.

The Blues flyer later shrugged off the incident and his subsequent tackles as nothing serious and said there was no animosity towards the Lions fullback.

“”That’s just outsides having fun. There was nothing in that at all,” Howlett said of their first-half encounter.

He also described his second-half hits as being [part of the game.

“That was just an opportunity to stop the movement of their backline, to hit man and ball. There was no malice in any of the tackles with Earl Rose. We shook hands after the game,” he added.

Blues coach David Nucifora also though the tackles were more impressive than the tries.

“I don’t know about the tries but I liked the two tackles,” Nucifora told journalists at the post-match press conference. “I don’t know if the young fullback liked them that much, but I thought they were pretty good.”

Nucifora praised Howlett for the aggression he showed.

“It’s an outstanding effort, good reward for great service over a long period of time from Doug to the Blues. We’re very happy for him,” added Nucifora.

365 Digital

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