Rugby World Cup – highlights from day 21
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus fully expects France captain Antoine Dupont to be a source of frustration if he returns from injury in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash. Dupont has been one of the world’s best players for a number of years and is widely expected to play a pivotal role in the France team against the Springboks on Sunday.
The 26-year-old suffered a broken cheekbone three weeks ago, sparking fears that he could miss the remainder of the tournament as a result. He underwent surgery the following day, though, and was cleared to resume full contact training ahead of schedule by specialists on Monday.
Dupont is said to have taken part in training with his France team-mates on Tuesday and Erasmus is under no illusions regarding the influence he could have against South Africa if he is declared fit to play. He clearly rates Dupont highly and pointed out that he is yet to even see the Frenchman break a sweat as a result of his calm and composed approach.
“A lack of fitness won’t be a problem with him,” said Erasmus. “I have actually never seen him sweat on the field, he’s so emotionless when he plays. He always looks so in control, obviously him being the captain.”
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Erasmus went on to suggest that Dupont could be even better than before his injury if he faces South Africa on Sunday, adding: “I broke my jaw three times and you can actually get leaner because you can’t eat. The next thing is you can run.
“He is definitely a guy who is not afraid to tackle, he’s a guy whose kicking and passing is still [good]. I have no doubt he will play and will be a big challenge for us to try and contain.”
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France will be desperate to have Dupont available against the Springboks on Sunday evening as they aim to book a semi-final meeting with either England or Fiji. Team doctor Bruno Boussagol recently suggested that Dupont could play with the use of a special protective helmet, with France not willing to take any unnecessary risks on their star man.
“The contact and stepping it up in training will be done pretty rapidly, we have three days to test him and to see his reaction [before announcing the team],” said Boussagol. “It is unthinkable we would take the slightest risk to bring Antoine back prematurely.
“We’re working on [a helmet], he’s tested this kind of protection. He has to be able to train with it without his hearing or sight being impaired. We need to help Antoine get into the best possible shape. We need to be by his side so that he can be available for selection in the best possible form.”
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