Rugby Union
Rougerie returns to training for France
France's hopes of lifting the Rugby World Cup look brighter after centre Aurelien Rougerie rejoins the squad.
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2011 17:31
Rougerie wrestles with Italian Tommaso Benvenuti during a RBS Six Nations match in 2011 [GALLO/GETTY] 

France's World Cup hopes have been boosted by the return of centre Aurelien Rougerie to full training, coach Marc Lievremont told reporters on Tuesday.

The Clermont captain has been out of action for three months after fracturing his ankle in the semi-finals of the Top 14 but is now back on two feet and preparing for a possible bench role in France's World Cup warm-up games against Ireland.

Vincent Clerc is also ready to return to the side although front row forwards Thomas Domingo and William Servat are still struggling to reach full fitness.

"It is great to have Aurelien back with the squad," said Lievremont.

"He has a great appetite and vitality and he is so pleased to be back without any concerns, even if he has not yet been training with opposition.

"His ankle is fine, physically he is sharp because even though he has had to stay on the margins of the squad, he has still followed the training programme. He is an athlete. We can say that he is out of the woods and

Rougerie - who will be appearing in his third World Cup - could be a bit player in the matches against Ireland on August 13 and 20 alongside winger Clerc who has recovered from a small operation on his right knee.

"The operation went well although I can't bend my knee until Thursday," said Clerc.

        Clerc is also expected to make a quick recovery after an operation on his knee [GALLO/GETTY]

"The injury didn't stop me training and I could have played as well but it might have been a problem later. I missed five days of training but I will get those back."

There was less good news over Servat and Domingo who are both suffering from knee injuries.

Servat is due to return to training on August 10 which will rule him out of the first match in Bordeaux but could see him return for the second in Dublin.

"William has been a little bit slower than Aurelien in his recovery but he is continuing with his fitness work," said Lievremont.

"He will miss the first match but could perhaps play in the second."

Domingo, though, will miss both although Lievremont remains confident that he will be ready for the tournament in New Zealand.

"As for Thomas, it is a question of time. There is zero chance of seeing him play against Ireland, it would be too big a risk. But he is progressing well and we will soon be able to reintegrate him into actual rugby sessions."

France begin their World Cup campaign against Japan in Auckland on September 10.

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