FRANCE learned over the weekend that they have lost talismanic stand-off Romain Ntamack for Sunday’s Nations Cup clash against Scotland at Murrayfield due to an as yet unspecified injury.

But the nation with arguably the deepest talent pool in world rugby was able to call on another precocious young talent to take over the No.10 jersey in the shape of uncapped Louis Carbonel.

The 21-year-old might not bring the same flair to the playmaker role as the man he is replacing but is an excellent goal-kicker and game manager, who was one of the most sought after properties in French rugby – reportedly attracting salary offers in the region of €500k – before recently signing a two-year contract extension with Toulon.

Carbonel was at the heart of his nation’s back-to-back Under-20 World Championship wins in 2018 and 2019, has already played 55 times for Toulon, and has been a regular member of recent French training squads, so he brings a pretty impressive CV to the party. He was widely expected to get some game time at some point during this Nations Cup campaign.

Certainly, Scotland centre Sam Johnson recognises that regardless of who is in the stand-off slot for Les Bleus, there is unlikely to be a significant drop-off in standards, and he has urged his own team to be more abrasive upfront than they were against Italy last weekend if they are to have chance of making it three wins on the bounce against France for the first time since 1958.

“We didn’t adjust our bearings quick enough against Italy, and they’re a big, fast, physical team who got the better of us around the contact area,” he acknowledged. “Set-piece was also a problem because we didn’t get much good set-piece ball in that first half either.

“So, probably the biggest things we are going to have to do better will be our contact area and the set-piece, because from a back’s perspective it just felt like we weren’t getting much first phase ball against Italy. I don’t know why that was, but if we can fix it this week that’ll be key for going up against a tough France team. “If we can get speed of ball and outflank the defensive line then hopefully that opens up space for guys like Duhan van der Merwe on the wing.”

Meanwhile, the scheduling for the now traditional festive 1872 Cup double-header has been confirmed with Glasgow Warriors hosting Edinburg at Scotstoun on Sunday 27th December (3pm) and the return match being played at Murrayfield on Saturday 2nd January (also 3pm).