All Blacks and Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith has praised France’s Antoine Dupont as the best player in the world right now.
Dupont has been on the rise since ousting Morgan Parra as France’s number one halfback during the 2019 Six Nations and leapfrogging over Baptiste Serin. A breakout campaign in 2020 thrust Dupont into the conversation as the world’s best halfback after he became the first French player to win the Player of the Tournament award.
The Toulouse scrumhalf opened his 2021 campaign with four try assists in a 50-10 rout of Italy, including another highlight reel moment with a no-look pass to set up centre Arthur Vincent.
In response to the official Six Nations page, Smith tagged Dupont in the post writing that he is ‘on another level’ and that he helps Smith improve his own game.
“This guy is on another level!” Smith wrote with admiration.
“No one is near him at the moment. He’s the point of difference for both his club and country. He’s helping me look at parts of my game to improve.”
— Aaron Smith (@Te_Nug) February 10, 2021
Antoine Dupont responded to Smith’s praise with a series of blushing emojis and raised hands. Former All Black Lima Sopoaga also replied saying:
“I’d say he’s watching a fair few clips of you bro, but man is proper balling alright.”
The two halfbacks have only squared off at international level once, on the 2017 end of year tour where the All Blacks played France in Paris.
Antoine Dupont was still only 20-years-old, days away from his 21st birthday and made his first start for France when he stepped onto the field that night. The dynamic halfback flashed his potential making multiple line breaks, and made a claim as the best on field despite France going down 38-18.
Journalist Daniel Schofield of The Telegraph wrote of Dupont’s first start for France:
“France, however, restored some dignity in the second half, inspired by scrum-half Antoine Dupont, who on his first start ran Barrett very close as the best player on the pitch.”
Dupont missed the following year’s tour of New Zealand in June of 2018 and hasn’t had the chance to play the All Blacks since.
The two may face off again if 2021’s November schedule goes ahead, where the All Blacks are scheduled to play France on their end-of-year tour.
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