Gaël Fickou admits France will miss Virimi Vakatawa but has backed Les Bleus to cope in absence of their midfield star.
The Racing 92 centre will be absent for at least the start of the Guinness Six Nations after suffering a knee injury in club action.
That will keep him out for at least a month and is a blow to France, with the centre having been one of their standout performers in a resurgent 2020.
However Fickou, who has regularly started alongside Vakatawa, believes France have the talent in the backline to make up for his absence.
He said: “He’s an incredible player, everyone knows that. Today at his position, he is perhaps one of the best in the world, so of course we will miss him.
“But I think we have the resources, we have super players in the backs with a huge amount of talent as well, so his absence will be made up for by some very good players who prove it every day in the league and are younger than Virimi as well.”
Arthur Vincent started alongside Fickou last year when Vakatawa missed France’s second game of the Championship through injury, and the two-time World Rugby Under-20s champion could be in line to do so once more.
And after some impressive performances from the French team in the autumn, where Fabien Galthié built up depth in the absence of his senior players in the latter half of the Autumn Nations Cup, Fickou believes that France have the players to fill in on the occasions when their stars are missing.
He added: “Of course he will be a big loss for us, he’s our X-factor who can make the difference. But you have to learn to adapt and that is a strength of this French team, at every position we have six good players who can step in and make up for the absence of Virimi, even if we realise how big a loss he is.”
France are currently at a training camp in Nice as they prepare for their opening game against Italy in Rome.
They released eight players back to their clubs to play in the Top 14 this weekend, including flanker François Cros, with three players set to link back up with the team on Sunday.