Rugby-France can cope in Six Nations despite injuries, says Dupont

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - 2023 Six Nations Championship launch - London, Britain - January 23, 2023 France's Antoine Dupont before the launch Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

ROME (Reuters) - France captain Antoine Dupont is confident Les Bleus will overcome a series of injuries as they start their Six Nations campaign with an away game against Italy on Sunday.

France are without Francois Cros, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere and Cameron Woki as they seek a second triumph in a row following their Grand Slam title last year, six months before hosting the World Cup.

"We have several important players injured but if you look at the history of the team, it has happened before quite a lot," Dupont told reporters on Saturday.

England are the last team to retain their Six Nations title in 2017 but no side has achieved consecutive Grand Slams since Les Bleus in the 1997 and 1998 Five Nations.

"Once you've won the tournament you want to win it again but there are other teams who have equal chances to win it," the scrumhalf said.

France are on a 13-match winning streak and have the World Cup in mind, but they are fully focused on the Six Nations and will not take anything for granted against Italy.

"The World Cup is in the background and we all have it in the back of our minds," said Dupont.

"But we haven't talked about it at all during our preparation. The number one goal is the (Six Nations) tournament.

"And we've seen their (Italy's) recent achievements: they won in Cardiff (22-21 in the Six Nations last year) and beat Australia (28-27 last November). They're very dangerous."

(Writing by Julien Pretot in Paris; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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