France will undoubtedly miss captain Antoine Dupont for as along as he is sidelined by a facial fracture but, centre Arthur Vincent said, have other players who can take up his leadership role at the World Cup.
The scrumhalf sustained the injury in last week’s record 96-0 win over Namibia, putting another massive dent in French hopes of winning a first world title after the earlier loss of flyhalf Romain Ntamack.
“It’s definitely a big blow to lose a player like Antoine. He is our captain, he’s the best player in the world,” Vincent told reporters at the team camp in Aix-en-Provence. “But we’ve already been through those kind of situations, unfortunately. We’re solid as a group, we’ve experienced that before.
“Things will come naturally. There is not only one captain. We have a group of leaders who have been working together for the last four years. All the players know their roles and bring something to the table.”
Dupont had surgery on the injury on the night of the match and will stay with the squad while he recuperates.
“His mere presence is important,” Vincent added. “If we have him with us on our video sessions and in training, he’ll have things to say, he’ll bring his expertise on certain aspects of the game.”
While Maxime Lucu or Baptiste Couilloud will replace Dupont in the number nine shirt, flanker Charles Ollivon will return to the captaincy he previously held for two years from 2020.
“He was our captain when we started this cycle,” added Vincent. “He’s got this natural leadership, he knows when he has to speak, when to insist on certain aspects. We know Charles and all the things he brings to us.”
France’s final Pool A match is against Italy in Lyon on Oct. 6 but thoughts of the quarter-finals were triggered when their likely opponents, South Africa and Ireland, played an epic test last weekend.
“We had to watch this, of course,” Vincent said of Ireland’s 13-8 win.
“It was a very tough match, very competitive. It was a huge match. South Africa could have won it as well.”
Prop Reda Wardi also enjoyed the match but was not perturbed about the prospect of facing the Springbok pack nor the “Bomb Squad” of replacements they have on the bench.
“We know they have a huge forward pack,” he said. “When they go for a seven-one bench split, you can expect that they want to bring physicality. They are high-level rugby players but not supermen.”
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