Relieved of the captaincy, flank Thierry Dusautoir says he is relishing the challenge of proving his worth in France's squad.
Relieved of the captaincy, France flank Thierry Dusautoir says he is relishing the challenge of proving his worth in coach Philippe Saint AndrÃ©'s squad.
The 31-year-old Toulouse flanker was replaced as skipper by veteran lock Pascal PapÃ© after missing the November Tests due to injury and is now focused on winning his place in the starting XV for next weekend's Six Nations opener with Italy.
“I am happy to be here with the squad and to be in top form,” said Dusautoir, a veteran of the last two World Cup campaigns captaining the French to the 8-7 defeat by the All Blacks in the 2011 final.
“The last time I was with them, I was injured.
“It is imperative that I demonstrate all over again I deserve being in the squad, it is something I find stimulating.
“We are competitors after all, having doubts cast over you is part of the job.
“Today, I am swept up by this challenge. Just like a young rookie, I am going to work hard to get back into the France team.”
The World Cup finalist only returned to the pitch in December, after suffering a knee injury in October, and has had to work hard to regain his sharpness.
“I have managed to do that. When one comes back from an injury, there is always a little doubt in your mind. Happily it wasn't a serious injury, and I was able to recuperate sufficiently,” said Dusautoir.
Dusautoir, who has played three games since making his return, said he had not been too upset by Saint AndrÃ©'s decision to appoint PapÃ© captain.
“I took it calmly. I have spoken about it to Pascal, there is no problem,” he said.
“I will be supportive of him and will do the utmost that everything goes well.
“My function now is different. I will focus on performing well and to earn my place on the pitch.”
Earlier this week, Saint AndrÃ© complained about the team's lack of preparation time for the Six Nations, unhappy that international players are competing in club matches the weekend before the tournament.