7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
"I have played a fair few games both with and against Jerry and Marty and it is clear to everyone that they have had a huge effect on the Ospreys," said the former Auckland Blues star and one of only two players to have both Super 10 and Heineken Cup medals in his possession with wins in 2003 and 2008 respectively.
"They are fantastic players and it is certainly no surprise to me that they are doing so well at the Ospreys. Collectively the Ospreys have one of the best squads in Europe - you just have to look at the names on the team sheet to see just how strong their squad is.
"I guess their greatest strength is the core group of players who have played in a lot of Tests together and when they come back from international duty and impose themselves at club level it is those periods of time together that really works for them.
"We know we are in for two huge matches against them and that we are really going to have to be at the top of our game home and away."
Munster, the Ospreys, Toulon and London Irish have each picked up a home Pool 3 victory and winning on the road will be crucial to hopes of reaching the last eight.
"It is still early days as far as qualification for the quarter-finals goes and everyone in our Pool is in with a hand so the next two weekends are vital," said Howlett, who made his tournament debut against ASM Clermont Auvergne in January, 2008, and bagged two more tries in the Round 2 win over Toulon in October.
"In my short experience in the Heineken Cup these back-to-back games can either break you or make you and I certainly want to experience another tournament final.
"I look back on that day at the Millennium Stadium as the highlight of my career because, although being capped by New Zealand and playing for the All Blacks was fantastic, this was special. That Heineken Cup final against Toulouse was a great event in a great tournament.
"The 2011 final will again be in Cardiff but we are not looking that far ahead - we know we have our work cut out just to get out of the Pool.
"I am really loving my time in Ireland with Munster. I cannot say enough good things about what a wonderful team they are to be involved with and what a tremendous experience and honour it has been captaining such a great team.
"With the internationals away with Ireland during the autumn matches that has also given the younger players opportunities to come through and show what they can do and we really do have some outstanding talent emerging at Munster.