Rugby World Cup: France captain Antoine Dupont to start quarter-final against South Africa, recovered from broken cheekbone

Antoine Dupont will start for France in Monday's (NZ time) quarter-final clash against South Africa, after recovering from surgery on a broken cheekbone in a massive boost for the hosts before what could be a tactical battle at the Stade de France.

The mercurial halfback missed Les Bleus' final Pool A game against Italy and while he was not needed in a 60-7 demolition of the Azzurri, the captain's presence against the defending champions will offer a confidence boost and add danger to Fabien Galthie's side.

Three weeks after a head-on-head collision with Namibia's Johan Deysel sent him to hospital, Dupont's return pushes Maxime Lucu back onto the bench, after he stood in brilliantly alongside flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert.

Antoine Dupont injured against Namibia.
Antoine Dupont injured against Namibia. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I feel great," said Dupont. "I'm in possession of all my capabilities - technical and physical.

"I thought the tournament was over for me. After the surgery, I started to have hope, and then I had a good recovery and went through all the steps, had the chance to have several weeks to complete the process.

"I have no apprehension."

Coach Galthie says Dupont's comeback was not rushed and a strict protocol was followed.

South Africa have sprung a few surprises with their line-up, with Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach occupying the halfback positions, and a 5-3 forward-back split on the bench - a big shift from the 7-1 split coach Jacques Nienaber chose for their Pool B clash against Ireland.

Instead, Galthie has opted to put six forwards instead of five on the bench, as he looks to cope with the Springboks power and skill up front.

"It is a very precise tactical approach [by South Africa]," Galthie said. "They always have a well-thought plan, depending on who they are facing.

"They have been looking into everything and I think they've been looking into us a lot.

"Their 5-3 choice is tactical - it's a chess game. This morning, we were thinking about what we could propose ourselves.

"We're entering a world of strategy and tactics, and we're relishing the challenge."

France won the last meeting between the two teams - 30-26 last November - while South Africa prevailed 19-15 in their last World Cup encounter, in the 1995 semi-finals.

Les Bleus, who won all their pool games, starting with a 27-13 victory against New Zealand, are facing their second huge test of the tournament against a team they had not beaten since 2009, before last year.

"They've been worthy world champions, they have inspired us and we have been trying to understand them - their vision, the way they unite a nation," said Galthie.

"For us, the goal is to play rugby, simply, and enjoy it, with ambition. We cannot wait for it."

France: 1-Cyril Baille, 2-Peato Mauvaka, 3-Uini Atonio, 4-Cameron Woki, 5-Thibaud Flament, 6-Anthony Jelonch, 7-Charles Ollivon, 8-Gregory Alldritt, 9-Antoine Dupont, 10-Matthieu Jalibert, 11-Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 12-Jonathan Danty, 13-Gael Fickou, 14-Damian Penaud, 15-Thomas Ramos

Reserves: 16-Pierre Bourgarit, 17-Reda Wardi, 18-Dorian Aldegheri, 19-Romain Taofifenua, 20-Francois Cros, 21-Sekou Macalou, 22-Maxime Lucu, 23-Yoram Moefana


Join Newshub at 8am Monday for live updates of the France v South Africa World Cup quarter-final