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Clerc ready to face 'new challenge'

France winger Vincent Clerc has played down talk of retirement after he suffered a knee injury that will rule him out of this summer's tour to New Zealand.

Clerc left the field in the 52nd minute of Toulouse's 39-17 Top 14 loss against Clermont on Saturday, and announced on Twitter that the injury would leave him out of action for several months. The injury means the 31-year-old will not be available for the three-Test tour of New Zealand in June.

However, he has dismissed talk of retirement, telling L'Equipe: "I'm not afraid of it (retirement). I'll be 32 years old but my lifestyle has allowed me to have the same physical capabilities as I did five years ago. I have a new challenge ahead of me."

The Toulouse wing does not yet know the severity of his injury and is due to undergo surgery next week before starting his rehabilitation.

Clerc ruptured cruciate ligaments in his other knee five years ago, which also happened in a Top 14 defeat to Clermont, and has a clear timetable regarding his latest recovery.

He added: "I give myself eight months before I return, and two or three more to find my level."

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