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Massive blow for France as lock Paul Willemse is ruled out of World Cup due to injury

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Hosts France have been dealt another injury blow after lock Paul Willemse dropped out of their Rugby World Cup squad with a thigh injury on Friday a week before their tournament opener, local media quoted the French Rugby Federation as saying.

The South African-born second row has been replaced by Bastien Chalureau, the reports said, with Willemse placed on a standby list should his injury settle and another change be needed during the tournament.

Chalureau made his France debut in November last year and has six caps, the most recent in the 34-17 warm-up win over Fiji last month.

Willemse was set to be a key part of France’s bid to win a first World Cup and is not their only significant injury in the build-up to the tournament, which they start against New Zealand on Sept. 8 in Paris.

First-choice flyhalf Romain Ntamack ruptured cruciate knee ligaments in a warm-up game against Scotland and is out of the tournament while prop Cyril Baille and powerful centre Jonathan Danty will miss their Pool A opener at the very at least.

France also face Italy, Uruguay and Namibia in their pool.

Reuters

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