Thierry Dusautoir's verdict on Dupont's return for Bok match
SPOTLIGHT: Former France captain Thierry Dusautoir said Antoine Dupont’s return from injury brings something different to the team for Sunday’s crunch World Cup quarterfinal with holders South Africa.
Current skipper Dupont only resumed training this week after having surgery on a fractured cheekbone on September 21 and will start Sunday’s encounter in Paris.
Les Bleus have yet to lose at home since Dupont took over the captaincy in November 2021.
“He’s obviously a valuable addition for France,” Dusautoir told AFP.
“Does it change everything? I don’t think so because the team is strong.
“But obviously whatever team in the world would be better with Dupont, so he brings added value,” the former flank added.
Les Bleus are among the favourites to win the World Cup, as they look to make up for finishing fourth the last time France hosted the tournament in 2007.
Sixteen years ago Dusautoir started five games during the campaign but missed the tournament-opening loss to Argentina.
“We managed the first game badly, with the pressure and realising we’d be playing a World Cup at home,” Dusautoir.
“We didn’t play to the maximum of our ability.
“The difference between 2007 and now is there is an enormous amount of mental preparation.
“The guys are prepared on a daily basis,” the 41-year-old added.
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‘Fantastic’ back row
During the tournament in 2007, Dusautoir nicknamed ‘The Dark Destroyer’ announced himself to the world, having only made his Test debut a year earlier.
In the surprise quarterfinal win over New Zealand, Dusautoir made a then-record 38 tackles in a Test.
Playing in France’s back row on Sunday will be No. 8 Gregory Alldritt and flanks Charles Ollivon and Anthony Jelonch with Francois Cros among the replacements.
“They’re fantastic,” Dusautoir said.
“There’s a guy like Francois Cros on the bench.
“Anthony Jelonch is there too, he’s really impressive every time he tackles a player. He makes his mark physically.
“The team is really well-rounded there. We’re very lucky,” he added.
France have rarely been in a better place for a run at a World Cup title.
They have lost just once at home since Fabien Galthie took over as head coach in December 2019.
In their way are South Africa as well as a potential semifinal against England or Fiji before a Final which could pip them against Ireland or New Zealand.
“They are capable of going the whole way,” Ivory Coast-born Dusautoir said.
“But the problem is the others are also capable.
“But that’s expected, the best nations in the world are here.”