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COVID-hit Dupont ‘lifts spirits’ with Toulouse return after GQ cover shoot

PARIS (AFP) – France captain Antoine Dupont is expected to play his first game in seven weeks today as champions Toulouse welcome Racing 92 in the French Top 14 after the scrum-half suffered a knee issue and contracted coronavirus.

Dupont, 25, stood in as Test skipper for the injured Charles Ollivon during the November series and is set to do so again for the upcoming Six Nations after last playing in December 11’s European Champions Cup win at Cardiff.

The world player of the year is one of five club teammates who were unable to join up with Les Bleus’ pre-tournament camp near Marseille this week after testing positive for the illness.

“We hope everyone will be fit to play this match,” Toulouse forwards coach Jean Bouilhou told reporters on Thursday.

“We’re not necessarily counting on them but it lifts your spirits to say that we will be able to count on some of them,” he added.

France’s scrum half Antoine Dupont. PHOTO: AFP

Earlier in the week, fashion magazine GQ published an edition with Dupont, who led Les Bleus to an impressive win over New Zealand in the autumn, on the cover dressed in an oversized yellow designer brand bathrobe.

“I will never prioritise non-sporting things over rugby, even if I know it’s part of the game and you have to make the most of it a little bit,” Dupont told GQ.

“After the victory over the All Blacks last November, we the players had I don’t know how many calls to do things but I was on holiday, I rested, I did nothing.

“It’s that state of mind that makes you good on the field,” he added.

On February 5, Dupont is likely to start at scrum-half in his country’s opening Six Nations game with Italy, eyeing a first trophy since 2010.

He is expected to start alongside fellow Toulouse playmaker Romain Ntamack with head coach Fabien Galthie keeping faith with the pair unlike his predecessors.

Galthie’s side host the next Rugby World Cup and have lost just once at home since the former captain took over three years ago.