France head coach Fabien Galthie said on Wednesday captain Antoine Dupont is “doing well” after returning a positive test for coronavirus and is likely to feature in next month’s Six Nations openers.
2021 World Player of the Year, Dupont last played on 11 December after suffering a knee injury followed by a positive test result. France are scheduled to host Italy in Paris on 6 February.
The scrumhalf, one of eight members of Les Bleus’ squad to have tested positive last week, is set for another test in the hopes that the results will clear him to 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.
“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.
The other seven players who tested positive, including halfback partner Romain Ntamack and lock Bernard le Roux, are also doing fine according to Galthie.
Centre Gael Fickou stood in for Dupont at the launch with France at a pre-tournament training camp near Marseille.
On Tuesday, GQ magazine published an edition with Dupont dressed in a oversized yellow bathrobe in a photo shoot, which has invited joking criticism from former teammates such as ex-France wing 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, France are favourites to win a first Six Nations championship since 2010, after an impressive November which included a convincing win over New Zealand.
France have 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.”
France host the next Rugby World Cup and they face three-time winners the 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.”
© Agence France-Presse
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