KUMAMOTO, 30 Sep – Demba Bamba has promised that Japan 2019 will not be his last Rugby World Cup after he was forced to withdraw from the France squad with a thigh injury.
The 21-year-old prop made his World Cup debut off the bench in the 23-21 win over Argentina, but he is now the second France injury victim after centre Wesley Fofana was forced out before the Argentina match.
With France hosting the next World Cup in 2023, Bamba has an obvious long-term target.
"What I'm holding on to, despite not being able to go on, is that at 21 I've nonetheless taken my first steps in the World Cup," said Bamba, pictured.
"I can keep that memory. It's a positive. If I got that far, it's because I worked for it. I'm going to keep knuckling down and come back stronger."
The Brive player replaced Rabah Slimani after 47 minutes to win his seventh cap and complete a rapid rise through the France ranks that also featured his international debut against Fiji in November.
Bamba was one of three players in Jacques Brunel’s squad who won the World Rugby U20 Championship on home soil in 2018, below, and is expected to be a vital part of the team in 2023.
"I'm gutted. But I'm telling myself it’s part of sport," said Bamba.
"I’m going to watch the matches with my friends (in France) and be ready to get up at 5am."
Bamba left on a positive note after he received a fitting send-off from the France squad, who now turn their attention to matches against USA, Tonga and England.
"I went out for dinner with friends from the team yesterday evening," Bamba said. "They told me they wanted my last moment with them to be a pleasant moment.
"There was also a little meeting with the team when my withdrawal was announced. I heard some kind words. I'm happy.
"I'd like to tell them (the squad) to give everything to go as far as possible. I trust them. They’re going to do something special."