France have suffered a major blow for the Six Nations as Top 14 Rugby club Toulouse have announced that their captain Thierry Dusautoir has been ruled out of the championship.
The 32-year-old flanker – capped 65 times and world player of the year in 2011 – will be out for four months after he tore a tendon in his right biceps, Toulouse head coach Guy Noves said.
France finished bottom of the Six Nations last year and start their campaign this term at home to England in a fortnight.
The 30-man squad are due to meet up for a training camp at Canet-en-Roussillon later on Sunday.
Dusautoir, who Noves said will undergo an operation on Tuesday or Wednesday, suffered the injury in four-time Heineken Cup champions Toulouse’s final pool match of this season’s competition on Saturday, the 16-6 away win over Italian side Zebre.
“We feared it was a serious injury,” said Noves.
“We hoped that the scans wouldn’t confirm the original diagnosis.
“His injury adds to a growing list of serious injuries to key players.
“That makes it five to six players of the highest quality that we have lost,” added Noves, referring to injuries to former All Black fly-half Luke McAlister, French international centre Florian and utility scrummager Gregory Lamboley.