Ronan O’Gara has named France scrum-half Antoine Dupont as the best player in the world.
Dupont was simply exceptional for Les Bleus in their 40-point victory against the Italians, contributing four try assists and scoring one of his own.
The Toulouse man is just 24 but is widely regarded as the most talented rugby player in the world right now, with O’Gara telling Off The Ball that he believes Dupont is capable of creating a legacy akin to that of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo’s.
“Dupont is right up there already, he’s the best player in the world for me. He’s a serious, serious player.
“When we talk about Messi and about Ronaldo, I think in five years time we’ll be talking about Dupont in the same glorified way,” O’Gara said.
Dealing with Dupont
The French playmaker is expected to cause a host of problems for Ireland in their Six Nations encounter on Sunday and will likely be a major point of focus for the Irish defence.
However, the former Ireland fly-half reckons there isn’t much to be gained from putting too much emphasis on shutting down Dupont.
“I don’t know how wise it would be to target Dupont. I think you just have to stay as connected as possible in your defensive line when he is around the ball,” O’Gara said.
“If you kind of go after him, he will just create something for someone else. Dupont excels is his capacity in broken field play compared to any other nine in the world.
“What Dupont does better than anyone else is that he gets on the ball in chaos or in unstructured play and he has a go.
“It can look like there’s absolutely no gaps, no threat and then bang he goes off his left foot, he goes off his right foot and all of a sudden he’s 20 metres up the pitch. He’s also incredibly strong, he’s a little pocket rocket.”
Prediction for Sunday
Despite the considerable threat that the French number nine poses to Andy Farrell’s side, O’Gara believes Ireland will get the better of Les Bleus at the Aviva Stadium.
“I think Ireland are going to win.
“Why do I say that? I think home advantage is huge even without the public and Ireland have never lost their first two games in the history of the Six Nations. I don’t expect them to start this weekend,” O’Gara commented.
Ireland will need a win against France on Sunday to keep their hopes of a Six Nations title alive while France will look to remain in pole position for their first one since 2010.