France captain Antoine Dupont said on Friday the French coaching staff did not pressurise him to play in this weekend’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against defending champions South Africa.
The 26-year-old scrumhalf underwent surgery on a fractured cheekbone — he suffered in the September 21 win over Namibia — three weeks ago.
Dupont, who only returned to full contact training this week, will wear a headguard as demanded by his surgeon
The 2021 World Rugby player of the year will start Sunday’s game at the Stade de France despite some people voicing their concerns he was returning too soon.
“I haven’t felt pressure from the coaching staff,” Dupont told reporters.
“No decision was forced, we respected the time periods, the stages were done progressively.
“The most important thing was my feeling, so that I don’t feel I am playing with the brakes on,” he added.
After undergoing surgery Dupont spent a week at home recovering before returning to light training duties with France.
He resumed full contact training this week.
“My recovery went well,” Dupont said.
“The night of September 21 was difficult.
“I had a week to recover, to feel better again and to do a full week of training with the squad,” he added.
Dupont replaces Maxime Lucu in the starting lineup with Baptiste Couilloud dropping out from the matchday squad.
The pair featured in France’s 60-7 thrashing of Italy last Friday.
“If I couldn’t play then I would have been replaced in the best way possible by Baptiste or Maxime,” Dupont said.
“If I’m playing it’s because I feel good and that the medical side of things have validated my place on the team sheet,” he added.
Sunday’s match pitches the hosts, who are unbeaten at home since March 2021, coming up against the Springboks who are second in the world rankings.
Dupont, though, said these are the type of games one dreams of playing, the ultimate challenge.
“I think, for these type of matches, there’s always pain, be them physical or mental, international matches are demanding,” Dupont said.
“Even more so when there’s something at stake.
“We have to be ready to suffer to get to where we want to be, we have heightened objectives, it will be very hard from start to finish.
“If we’re not ready for that, we’re not ready to go where we want to go,” he added.
© Agence France-Presse
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