SHAUN EDWARDS: Watch out Springboks, Antoine Dupont is back!

SHAUN EDWARDS: Watch out Springboks, Antoine Dupont has the all-clear! Given the level of player he is, I would back him to go straight into the team… plus he’s a leader

  • Antoine Dupont received the all-clear from his surgeon and is building fitness
  • He has not lost any weight and he is looking likely to play against the Springboks 
  • Given the level of player he is, Dupont is expected to go straight into the team 
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

It was fantastic for Antoine Dupont to get the all-clear from his surgeon on Monday.

He had an appointment where they look at things like bone density, to see how his cheekbone has healed.

The doctor said he may wear a scrum cap so we’ll see how the next few days go but it’s great to have him back.

He’s been in and around camp, training on his own with the fitness guys.

What’s important is he hasn’t lost any weight. He was able to take on yoghurts and protein shakes the morning after his injury which was vital because he’s so ripped, and that muscle disintegrates if it’s not fed. There’s not an ounce of fat on him.

Antoine Dupont has received the all-clear from his surgeon and is able to return for France

He has been back in and around the camp and training on his own with the fitness coaches

We’re confident he’ll be able to play against the Springboks on Sunday.

Given the level of player he is, I would back him to go straight into the team. He’s a leader. As defence coach, I’ll be spending a bit of extra time with him this week to get him ready. We’ll do a bit of extra tackling work because he’s not taken contact for a few weeks.

That will all be on the bags. I stopped doing live tackling in training after Gareth Anscombe got injured while being tackled by Leigh Halfpenny during a Wales training session back in 2015. He ended up being out for four weeks!

Looking back on the pool stages, I’d like to say how well Maxime Lucu and Matthieu Jalibert have done in the half-back jerseys for us. They’ve not put a foot wrong since we lost Antoine and Romain Ntamack.

I’m giving Maxime the defensive player of the week because of his tackling and the way he got us out of our own 22 against Italy on Friday night. We call it sorties de camp – exit plays.

He was kicking with right and left foot like Antoine does and his prize will be a bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne. I told the lads on Monday that when we get into the knockout stages we’ll be moving up to the Dom Perignon!

France defence coach Shaun Edwards is confident Dupont may play against the Springboks

Dupont had an appointment to see how his cheekbone has healed after being tackled high up

We conceded 32 points in the pool stages which is the lowest in the competition. I’m pleased with that. Professionally I’ve enjoyed the World Cup so far and on a personal level I thought Portugal’s win over Fiji on Sunday was the game of the tournament.

They’re not the biggest team but they were brilliant. I had planned to get an early night but I couldn’t take my eyes off it! I was happy to see the stadium packed and rocking, like it has been for the France matches – what an occasion.

We go on to a bigger challenge now against the world champion South Africans. It will be an absolute cauldron on Sunday night and we need to bring our A-game.

The guys were allowed to go home over the weekend and came back into camp Monday lunchtime.

We’re back in our favourite hotel on the edge of Paris. It feels a bit like home for us, right beside a racecourse. I love the sight of beautiful horses galloping round first thing in the morning, when it’s silent.

Former France and Manchester United goalkeeper Fabian Barthez has spoken to the players

Those horses are worth millions of pounds and as a fellow coach I appreciate the work their trainers put into them. The difference is that rugby players can talk back to you!

We’ve had Fabien Barthez in camp, talking to the players about embracing the World Cup. I sat next to him on the bus.

Goalkeepers are tough guys. He’s really small – smaller than me – but he’s tough. He told me he broke his cheekbone twice from elbows in the face. He spoke to the guys about handling the pressure of it all. It was great to have him with us for three or four days.

There’s a lot of TV cameras around the camp. We try to be as open as possible because that connects us with the public and gets them behind us. They can see that we’re giving 100 per cent, how proud we are and how hard we are working.

Their support is fantastic; we feel like royalty when we’re on the bus through town. When they sing Allez Les Bleus, it’s deafening.

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