Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont will captain France during next month’s Test series with Charles Ollivon injured, the French Rugby Federation announced on Monday.
Dupont, 24, is considered one of the world’s leading players and stands in for Ollivon, who is out until next year with a serious knee injury.
The half-back pipped domestic team-mate and childhood friend Anthony Jelonch, Toulouse captain Julien Marchand as well as Racing 92 centre Gael Fickou and La Rochelle’s No 8 Gregory Alldritt to the role.
“He puts himself between the forwards and the backs, it’s he who makes that link,” former France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili said.
“The captaincy demands that you make the link between all the players so it’s quite logical and normal,” he added.
This season Dupont has scored twice and made four assists in eight club appearances as the champions sit top of the Top 14 table.
At Test level, he has crossed 10 times in 32 internationals since making his Les Bleus debut in 2017 as a 20-year-old.
He captained Toulouse during May’s European Champions Cup final victory with hooker Marchand banned, and was named French rugby’s club and international player of the year in September.
In February, New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith said Dupont was the best player on the planet.
“This guy is on another level! No one is near him,” Smith said on Twitter.
“He’s the point of difference for both his club and country,” he added.
Les Bleus host Argentina on November 6, Georgia eight days later and the All Blacks, which will also be the 2023 Rugby World Cup’s opening fixture, on November 20 over the coming four weeks.
Racing 92 centre Virimi Vakatawa was replaced in the squad by uncapped Toulon utility back Aymeric Luc.
New Zealand-born Vakatawa left the field with half an hour remaining of his club’s loss to Montpellier on Saturday.
His absence could open the door for head coach Fabien Galthie to start Matthieu Jalibert at fly-half and regular stand-off Romain Ntamack in midfield with Fickou wearing the No 13 shirt.
Earlier in the day, Toulouse tight-head prop Dorian Aldegheri took the place of La Rochelle’s Uini Atonio.
Atonio, 31, has a muscle injury and was replaced after an hour in his club’s victory over Toulon on Sunday.
Aldegheri, 28, will compete with Lyon’s Demba Bamba and Castres’ Wilfrid Hounkpatin for a starting berth.
Galthie’s squad met up at their training base on Sunday, and will miss their club games next weekend.