France’s head of performance Thibault Giroud said on Thursday he expects captain Antoine Dupont to feature against Italy in the Six Nations this weekend despite playing just once in the past seven weeks.
Since Toulouse’s victory over Cardiff on 11 December, world player of the year Dupont, 25, has been sidelined with a knee problem and then returned a positive test for coronavirus.
France begin the Six Nations championship at home against Italy on Sunday and the scrumhalf is expected to continue to stand in for regular skipper Charles Ollivon.
“Antoine is good, there are no issues, we’re just managing his load, like we do with other players,” Giroud told reporters.
“Obviously he lacks a bit of game time but you can’t compare normal people and professional players at this level.
“We want him back at his level but not so that he plays and is over-tired,” he added.
Dupont is one of five France-based players, including halfback partner Romain Ntamack, who missed last week’s training camp near Marseille due to quarantine restrictions.
“They returned in different states for each player,” Giroud said.
“It’s not down to the lack of fitness of a player but players who had Covid were unable to train specifically, they had to stay at home.
“It’s not five-six days of being sidelined at this stage of the season which will cause problems.
“Physically, they’re top-level athletes, they react and get back to things very quickly,” he added.
© Agence France-Presse
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