PETER O'MAHONY is the early favourite to replace the retiring Doug Howlett as Munster captain.
Howlett has been forced to retire from rugby on medical advice after undergoing shoulder surgery recently.
The winger last played in their Pro12 game against Glasgow Warriors in March, which was his 114th appearance for the province.
He retires as the club's second top try-scorer with 35 touchdowns after five and a half seasons in red. He is also New Zealand's all-time leading try-scorer with 49 tries in 62 appearances for the All Blacks.
Howlett became just the second foreign player to be installed as the Munster captain, following Australian Jim Williams.
O'Mahony (above) captained Munster during O'Connell's absences in the 2011/12 season and it is believed he is the strong favourite among the squad. Donnacha Ryan and James Coughlan have also captained the side in the past, and are both under consideration.
Munster coach Rob Penney deviated from the tradition of having the squad select their captain when he appointed Howlett to the position when he took over at the beginning of the season.
It was a universally popular decision among the squad but it's not yet known whether Penney will revert to allowing the squad select the captain or if he will appoint his own leader.
A decision is not expected until pre-season.