Speaking of Howlett's injury, Paul O'Connell said, "It's hugely disappointing to lose a player like Doug. He's been a role model for everyone, young lads, fellas like me, the way he turns up at training every day. The professional way he's always conducted himself. Always gives it his all and then goes out and produces it again on the field. There was a despondency in our dressing room on Saturday when we knew it (injury) wasn't good.
"But knowing the sort of guy he is, I wouldn't be writing him off. He'll be back."
In other injury news, Keith Earls (knee) is expected back training next week with the possibility of a return to action in the home game v Scarlets. Earls was in UL this afternoon but took no part in the session.
Others due to return from injury include Peter Borlase (back) who may take part in the British & Irish Cup game in Tralee on Saturday and Dave O'Callaghan (knee) who could also be involved.
Darragh Hurley however continues to be dogged by injury. He's recovered from an Achilles only to then sustain a back (disc) that could see him sidelined for up to 3 months.
Ivan Dineen looks to be set for as return next week while David Wallace and Felix Jones both continue to impress with their rehab progress, a Feb/March and Jan/February timeframe for their respective returns.
Finally, news on Jerry Flannery is less definite other than it will be the New Year before he might be back playing.