France’s star centre Virimi Vakatawa will miss the entire 6 Nations after suffering a knee injury during Racing 92’s Top 14 defeat at home to Bordeaux last weekend.
The Fijian-born internationalist, who is a big part of Fabien Galthié’s squad, left the field early in the first half after sustaining a sprained knee following a tackle from Pablo Uberti et Clément Maynadier. He was replaced by Argentinian Juan Imhoff.
Vakatawa underwent medical exams post-match and did not travel to Nice where the French team convened for their 6 Nations preparation camp ahead of the tournament.
The French Rugby Union, the FFR, has not officially confirmed Vakatawa’s tournament absence although according to Midi Olympique, Galthié will be without another of his key players for the tournament, having already lost fly-half Romain Ntamack for at least the first game against Italy after suffering a double jaw fracture at the back end of last year.
Uini Atonio, Jean-Baptiste Gros et Swan Rebbadj have also been cut down by injury while prop Demba Bamba is expected to be ruled out for a month.
There are also reportedly some doubts over the fitness of captain Charles Ollivon and fellow back-rower Grégory Alldritt. In the case of Alldritt, ruled out of the training squad to prepare the match against Italy by the international staff, the Number 8 nevertheless turned out for Top 14 club La Rochelle, scoring two tries against Agen.
When interviewed on the Stade 2 programme on Sunday evening, France team manager Raphaël Ibañez said that Alldritt had “not been deemed 100% fit” and therefore was returned to his club.
France will kick off their 6 Nations campaign against Italy in Rome on the weekend of 6th February.