Kolisi backs 'amazing' Dupont at fly-half in Champions Cup last 16

rugby04 April 2024 03:20| © AFP
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Siya Kolisi © Gallo Images

Racing 92's quest for a first Champions Cup title faces the hurdle of five-time winners Toulouse in the last 16 on Sunday, with Siya Kolisi's three-time runners-up expected to face France superstar Antoine Dupont in the unusual position of fly-half.

Former World Rugby player of the year Dupont has excelled in the role in recent weeks, since being forced to fill in for absentees Romain Ntamack and Thomas Ramos.

Despite coming through as a fly-half, 27-year-old Dupont has played the majority of his senior rugby career at scrum-half.

"He's a natural, gifted rugby player. His mind and way he sees the game is absolutely different," South Africa's two-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain Kolisi told reporters on Wednesday,

"You have to be aware of everything. I think he's an amazing player, he's one in many generations.

"He can play anywhere on the field, I've always said that," the 32-year-old flanker added.

Kolisi joined Racing from South African side Sharks, after lifting a second World Cup with the Springboks last October.

This weekend he makes a return from a month-long absence due to a thumb injury.

Toulouse have lost just three times at home in the top-tier continental competition in the past decade and are record 22-time French champions.

"They set the standard in the French league, so much history," Kolisi said.

"It's a perfect opportunity for us to see what we can do against them."


Kolisi's outfit head south shorn of their starting scrum-half in lively youngster Nolann Le Garrec, and with first-choice fly-half Antoine Gibert and hooker Camille Chat also injury doubts.

Clovis Le Bail is set to make his first Champions Cup start in place of Le Garrec, who suffered concussion in last Saturday's league win over Clermont.

"I'm very sad for him, it's tough, he's a great player, he's very important for us but it's an opportunity for someone else," Kolisi said.

"A competition is never won by 23 players, it's always won by a squad.

"Hopefully he gets better and is back on the field as soon as possible."

Elsewhere, holders La Rochelle head to the Stormers on Saturday in a repeat of the pool-stage match they lost by a point after a last-gasp Manie Libbok conversion.

"Manie's a special player," Stormers full-back Damian Willemse told reporters on Tuesday.

"He's been 100 per cent, really sharp, he's got that bounce, it's a Manie we love seeing," he added.

There is a re-run of the 2009 final as four-time winners Leinster face Leicester and on Sunday, Munster head to English Premiership leaders Northampton in a repeat of the 2000 decider.