COVID-hit France captain 'doing well'
INJURY UPDATE: France head coach Fabien Galthie said captain Antoine Dupont is “doing well” after contracting COVID-19 and is likely to feature in next month’s Six Nations openers.
World player of the year Dupont, 25, last played on December 11 after suffering a knee injury and then testing positive for COVID-19 with Italy heading to Paris on February 6.
The scrumhalf, who is one of eight members of Les Bleus’ squad to have contracted the virus last week, will undergo another test and could return for Toulouse as they host Racing 92 on Sunday.
Dupont is expected to continue to lead his country during the upcoming tournament with regular skipper Charles Ollivon still out with a knee injury.
“We’ve had an exchange. He’s doing well, he’s training every day,” Galthie told reporters at the Six Nations’ virtual launch.
“Depending on the results, he will or won’t play with Toulouse.
“That’s the decision of his coach Ugo Mola, and I trust him to make the best decision for the team and Antoine,” he added.
Galthie’s side welcome Italy to start their campaign on February 6.
The other seven, including half-back partner Romain Ntamack and lock Bernard Le Roux, are also doing fine according to Galthie.
“We exchange with all the players, at a distance of course,” former Test skipper Galthie said.
“We have good news about the players and their health and mental state. They’re doing well,” he added.
– World Cup ‘roadmap’ –
Centre Gael Fickou stood in for Dupont at the launch with France at a pre-tournament training camp near Marseille.
On Tuesday, a magazine published an edition with Dupont dressed in an oversized yellow bathrobe in a photoshoot, which has invited joking criticism from former teammates such as ex-France winger Yoann Huget.
“Everything suits him. It is true that it is a unique uniform,” Fickou said.
“It is funny to see him like that, as long as he is enjoying himself that is what is important” he added.
According to some bookmakers, Galthie’s side is favourites to win a first Six Nations since 2010, after an impressive November which included a convincing win over New Zealand.
France has finished second twice in the campaigns since Galthie took over after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“We’re very happy to hear and receive these types of comments,” Galthie said.
“It rewards the work that we’ve put in for two years. The commitment of the team, the virtue of the team, what the team show on the field, match after match,” he added.
France host the next Rugby World Cup and they face three-time winners All Blacks in the first fixture in September 2023.
“It’s a visible objective on our roadmap, on our path,” Galthie said.
“We’ve built our progress with this vision and also with the matches that are to come.
“We also have to keep as an objective the tournament that’s coming, and the opening game at the Stade de France against Italy.”