Jelonch unlikely to retain France captaincy with 'unquestionable leaders' returning

Toulouse (France) (AFP) –


France back-rower Anthony Jelonch said he doubts he will retain the captain's armband for this autumn's series before making his Toulouse debut this Saturday.

Les Bleus will face Georgia, Argentina and New Zealand later this year after Jelonch led Les Bleus during July's three Tests in Australia.

Jelonch, 25, took over as skipper during the summer with regular captain Charles Ollivon injured until next year and options such as Toulouse pair Julien Marchand and Antoine Dupont unavailable due to a clash with the Top 14 final.

"I only think about my captaincy in Australia, it was for the tour," he told AFP this week.

"Undoubtedly, leaders will return in November. We'll see with the coaching staff.

"France is my objective of course but the competition (for a starting place) is ferocious and it will come with good club performances."

On Sunday, Jelonch is set to make his Stade Ernest-Wallon bow after a close-season move from Castres, where he won the Top 14 in 2018.

Last month, Toulouse announced South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe would leave for Toulon in reported record 1.8 million euros ($2.12 million) transfer fee with two years left of his contract.

"He's a player that's great to watch but frankly, there are a lot of other good players in this team," Jelonch said.

"I think we'll be OK, even without such an individual. The collective comes before everything," he added.

Jelonch's 75km move east to the banks of the Garonne follows in the footsteps of childhood friend Dupont.

The pair are likely to feature this weekend against Kolbe's new side with the Springboks' full-back absent due to his Test committment in The Rugby Championship.

"We get along well on the field because we know each other since forever," Jelonch said.

"We played together at Auch, Castres, France and now we'll do so with the Toulouse shirt, which was the stuff of dreams from our youth.

"We've come a long since starting at Auch, then being housemates in Castres. Playing together here will be a big moment," he added.