France captain Antoine Dupont remains in contention to be involved in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against South Africa after being “very active” since returning to training this week.
The 2021 world player of the year has been sidelined for the past three weeks since suffering a broken cheekbone after a head-on-head tackle from Namibia captain Johan Deysel in Les Bleus’ third pool match in Marseille on September 21.
Dupont, 26, who underwent surgery on the injury, was cleared on Monday to return to full training with a view to potentially playing in Sunday’s box-office Stade de France showdown with world champions South Africa.
“We’ve been talking for two weeks now, Antoine is doing very well,” said forwards coach William Servat, providing the latest update on the French talisman’s status at a media briefing at Roland Garros on Wednesday afternoon.
“He needed to recuperate. He’s been involved in the team’s strategic choices and the changes we’re making to the game. Today, he was even more involved. He’s back with us and he’s very active in training.”
France head coach Fabien Galthie is due to announce his matchday squad to face the Springboks on Friday morning after discussions with the influential scrum-half over whether or not he feels ready to make himself available for such a high-stakes match.
Bordeaux’s Maxime Lucu deputised in the number nine jersey for Les Bleus’ final Pool A match, a 60-7 victory over Italy on Friday.
Servat dismissed any notion that France might have to alter their defensive plans to compensate for any concerns about Dupont’s jaw if he is selected to face the ferociously physical Springboks this weekend.
“Antoine is one of the best defenders in the team and he’s at 100 per cent,” said Servat. “There’s no reason to change anything.”
Dupont has been trying out various forms of facial protection since his injury, but back-rower Gregory Alldritt has no concerns about his captain being exposed to further damage if he declares himself fit to tackle the bruising Boks.
“We know that in rugby, if you touch the head, it’s a red card,” said Alldritt. “He [Dupont] saw his surgeon who gave him the green light.
“Antoine is an intelligent, sensible person. If he says he can play again, it’s because he’s fully fit.”
Alldritt admits the French will have to play at their maximum intensity if they are to overcome a Boks side who ran them close in a nail-biting showdown in Marseille last November that ended 30-26 to Les Bleus.
“We’ve worked hard on this for four years,” he said of their bid to win the World Cup on home soil. “We’ve played some big games, both with our clubs and with the French national team.
“The opening match [against New Zealand] was complicated, but we were ahead by half-time. I hope it’ll be the same this weekend.
“We’re coming down the home straight. We want to enjoy ourselves, have a lot of fun and finish this competition with no regrets.
“We’re making progress match-by-match but so are they. We know how they’re going to play.
“Their DNA, their rugby, is based on physicality. It’s up to us to put in more intensity than usual for 80 minutes. As we saw in Marseille, they’re a team that stays in the game for 80 minutes. We’ve been warned.”